Failings of Canadian Health Care Hit Close to Home

Published March 1, 2002

Thirty years ago I was dating a young doctor who was experiencing severe back pain. At the time, the “Papaya Treatment” was in vogue, and the place to get it done was St. James Hospital in Toronto, Canada.

Even with her credentials, my doctor friend had to wait seven months for an appointment. That wasn’t because she was from the States, or because of high demand for the treatment … and it certainly wasn’t because of a lack of money on her part. It was simply due to the lack of medical personnel and facilities in Canada.

That was then, and this is now. Times have changed dramatically over that 30-year span, but not for the better: My younger brother Dan, a Canadian citizen, recently passed away from cancer. The cause of his death wasn’t cancer per se, but rather the deteriorated state of the socialized Canadian health care system.

Approximately three years ago, Dan experienced severe stomach pains. After waiting four months to see his assigned physician, he was put in a queue for a barium study of his gastrointestinal track. Six months later, the study revealed Dan had an “unusual” growth in his stomach. He was placed in another queue to receive an MRI.

Eight months later, the MRI revealed tumors spreading throughout his system. Dan was scheduled for immediate surgery. Three months later the surgery revealed massive tumors spreading throughout his system. The physicians simply “sewed him up” and declared it would be a waste of resources to proceed further.

A little over a year later, Dan passed away, leaving his wife, three great teens, and one young adopted child.

Dan was chairman of the Sociology Department at Vancouver University. He also served on the board of directors for the Canadian Mounted Police. Yet even with all those credentials, he became a victim of socialized medicine, like so many other Canadians.

May he rest in peace.

Jack Koenig is chair of Impact Voters of America.