Health service in Vancouver

Canada is famous for its medicare system. It is expensive, that’s why our tax rate is so high. I never understand why it cost so much until my father in law has a surgery in the Vancouver General Hospital. The surgery is a success, the treatment is fairly good. When I visit him in the hospital, my first impression is I am in a business hotel. The decoration and finishing of the lobby does not look like the hospitals I had in mind. He got a private room for his recovery and there are more than enough nurses in the ward. He is recovering pretty fast, it is able to sit up, walk and eat within a few days. Originally, the nurse told us he can be discharged on Monday. But the hospital don’t have psychotherapist on weekend, so we have to wait until psychotherapist session on Monday. Then the nurse told us he can be discharge on Tuesday afternoon. It turns out they are still waiting for one of his lab report from a test in Tuesday morning. The report won’t come back for another day, so my father in law will have to stay in the hospital until Thursday if the nurses did not forget anything else. If the hospital could stream line the work, take the test on Sunday and arrange the psychotherapist over the weekend, then we can take him home on Monday as planned. Oh! Did I mention he got a private room? Our health system is so inefficient, no wonder it cost so much to the tax payers.

I drove all the way to VGH to pick up my father-in-law without know he can’t be discharged today. It is a total waste of my time. Maybe the hospital should learn from the airport, setup a website for the family of patients to check discharge status. Like the arrival information in the airport, you can see whether the discharge is delayed or not. Then my friend, Chris, hear my idea and joke about this idea, maybe they should add the canceled status like a flight. If the patient is canceled, you don’t have to pick him up anymore, because he is already dead. Pat said it is cruel and suggested the cancel status change to the departure gate to Heaven.

9 thoughts on “Health service in Vancouver”

  1. You guys in the west use up all the resources! No wonder we people say our health care services here are getting worse and worse.

  2. Horace,

    I don’t know you well enough but pleas don’t kill me for saying this. (big smile) So shouldn’t your wife (Pat) be kicking your behind really hard already?

    Complaining your father-in-law having a more comfortable than he should be having (for free)? How dare you? (smile) Have you thought that the hospital might have run out of shared room so they use the more private ones to be more “efficient” (as this is so important to you)?

    Ah, since he went for surgery. I think you meant he had physiotherapy and not Psychotherapy, which are two very different thing. And I am sure your wife won’t be too happy you let this Freudian slip in.

    Finally, I checked with VGH, they actually has access to a multi-billion dollar state-of-the-art high-tech safety-critical, highly reliable, and highly redundant system for people to check if their relatives can be discharged from the hospital. It is called the telephone. Have you thought of calling the VGH first? (big smile)

    Horace, I know I am having too much fun. So forgive me. And I know I will have a price to pay. (smile)

    Wishing your father-in-law a speedy recovery.


  3. Kempton: Oh! It’s physiotherapy, not psychotherapy. I talked to my US friends, at least the government wasting money in hospital is better than wasting money in Iraq.

    You know what, we don’t even know there is a phone number to call until yesterday. No one had told us about the system. I would expect they give us some information pamphlet about discharge. All we got is the nurse told us he can be discharge “tomorrow” everyday.

  4. Horace,
    You have too much complaints =p
    Imagine that those in third-world countries… no adequate medicare.

    I have to say that the hospital assumes that patient and families are familiar users of the system. On the first night, I had to ask to use everything in the room of the ward. I know that the nurses are always busy, but it probably wouldn’t hurt to give an orientation to everyone.

    VGH is also not a user-friendly place in terms of parking. It is very expensive. $15/ day. (but they never tell you that there’s a 2-week pass for $50)

    I was lucky to bump into a man in ICU waiting room who gives us a lot of tips to ‘sleep over’ in the hospital. Where to find a blanket, check e-mails, find a hotel… he went through a lot and I bet that his heart has been broken…

    It is a blessing to have good health!

    – wife

  5. Pat,

    Right, Horace complains too much! But then my better half said the same about me, so I better not agree too much. 🙂

    Well, I guess, once you asked, they explained and you know how to use things. Think of it this way, may be many other patients don’t care about the other things (may be except the emergency alarm bell to bring nurse) and may feel overwhelmed with information that they don’t need to know?

    Agree those info (e.g. parking pass, emails, blanket, etc) will be useful. Have you thought of suggesting to the hospital to put those info on a sheet of paper and post it on a bulletin board somewhere in the sitting room? Or better, you can volunteer to help them make one? Consider it paying it forward and doing some good for others. (smile)

    Wishing your dad a speedy recovery.


    P.S. Horace, I hope I didn’t get your wife’s name wrong. Please fix it if I did.

  6. When you talk about healthcare, I am sure many Canadians have many stories to tell. I have a few myself.

    One of the worst I know is like this: A few years ago, the grandfather of a friend had a stroke which was pretty serious and paralyzed him. He was at St Paul Hospital. When my friend went visit him. He found that his grandfather was placed in an empty room on the floor. Without bedding or a blanket. He was placed there waiting for his final moment.

    Hope that your father in-law is all recovered by now.

  7. Many thanks for all of your best wishes to my father’s health =)

    He is a brave patient. I admire his strength and will. Although it was my first time seeing him trembling on the hospital bed, I never thought that he could be once appear weak to me.

    It is a lot of grace to be able to care for our parents!
    Let’s treasure our relationships with parents and take good care of them! This is the most important and fruitful lesson that I have ever learnt in caring for my father in the hospital for 7 days!

    I thank Horace for being there to help and support me to be able to care for my father =)

    I agree with Kempton’s points. It gets pretty emotional when I was actually in the situation. After settling down for a couple of weeks, I can finally be more calm and get a more rounded perspective. Thanks for your suggestions and constant feedback to Horace for making his thoughts better (with less biases)! (Sometimes, I can’t even stand his swayed statements… my brain just hurts! =p)

    – wife

  8. Dear Pat,

    You are right, our parents age so unnoticeably that they seem so well with years passing by until they have a trip to the hospital and then we realize how frail they had become all of a sudden. You are lucky to have a good husband in Horace to take care of you father with you.

    Pat, It is interesting and my pleasure to have sometimes lengthy discussions with Horace here and in my blog. While Horace’s ideas may sometimes be quite “swayed”, a bit “out there” or “less than clearly thought out”, but provocative ideas sometimes have hidden benefits upon further examinations. We, including Horace, just have to realize that we may be wrong sometimes and keep trying to get better.

    The Pursuit of Perfection. An idea that stuck in my mind from a car ad. We will never attain “perfection”. The moment we think we know everything, are perfect, and are right all the time, thats when trouble starts. So the fun is the “pursuit”, the journey towards that impossible “perfection”.

    Wishing everyone good health in the Chinese new year of Ox coming Monday.


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