Home health care system far from perfect

Editor, The News:

Re: Fraser Health Authority aims to divert elderly care from hospitals (The News, July 20).

The Fraser Health Authority’s aim of improving home care is laudable.

The goal of keeping seniors in their homes safely for as long as possible has been talked about endlessly in health care circles.

We need to ask ourselves how the stated goals of Fraser Health relate to the care that is actually being delivered.

My sense is that the system is far from perfect.

The Canada Health Act of 1984 resulted in money for doctors and the hospital system, but home care was never covered in this act. Federal transfer payments for health care were slashed 40 per cent by Paul Martin in 1995, and we’ve seen massive changes in hospital care ever since.

Bed shortages and early discharges are the new standard.

Meanwhile, the long-term care and home care sectors of our health care system have become favoured targets of private health care companies.

Brian Mulroney’s Canada-U.S. free trade agreement opened our border up to large U.S. corporations with years of experience in private health care and their presence is now felt pretty much everywhere in Canada.

It must be remembered that without a strong public system in place, the cherished goal of universality goes out of the window.

In other words, the quality of life being experienced by our seniors will be more and more determined by their ability to pay.

As a pharmacist, I have seen the affects health care policy has on the lives of patients.  I have dispensed pain-killers to a tiny, 83-year-old woman who strained her back trying to turn her much larger husband in bed after a major stroke robbed him of most of his mobility.

I’ve seen a Second War Two veteran readmitted to hospital five hours after being discharged.  Incidentally, he died less than 24 hours after his second admission.

It is my sincere hope that home care initiatives are given the resources they require so that the citizens of our province can live out their golden years in dignity.

I also hope that hospital beds continue to be there for people in need of them.

Elizabeth Rosenau

Maple Ridge