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Praise for English healthcare

January 31st,2024 | Opinion

With all the negativity swirling around the centralized system of Santé Quebec and its impact on English healthcare, it’s important to highlight positive experiences whenever they happen. 

And I must admit that the level of care and expediency I recently received at the Gatineau Hospital was impressive. 

I sustained a concussion during beer league hockey in Masham in early January. Since then, I’ve been experiencing post-concussion symptoms, including headaches, fatigue and a sore neck and throat. These symptoms have been nearly non-existent some days and severe the next – typical concussion recovery. 

Last Monday, the symptoms returned something fierce. I was sitting in a Gatineau courthouse covering a trial when my neck and throat began to hurt. The pain continued to get worse until I had trouble swallowing. After popping a couple of Advil, I was confident I would be good enough to cover La Pêche’s budget meeting that evening. I showed up, and about two minutes after arriving, the pain returned and I had to rush myself into the ER in Wakefield. 

I did end up waiting five hours in the ER, and aside from a Wakefield doctor who hassled me for not being able to speak French as a journalist, the French/English barrier was non-existent. I received care in English and was treated with dignity and respect. 

What’s most impressive about my experience, though, is the level of care I received in such an efficient manner. Aside from the five hours in the ER at Wakefield, everything else was done in a flash. After seeing the ER doctor, he wanted to keep me overnight and send me to a specialist to be looked at in the morning. With stretcher occupancy rates at over 100 per cent, I knew I would likely be sleeping on a hallway cot, so I decided to go home and sleep in my own bed. The doctor said he would call me at 8 a.m. the next morning to see what the waiting lists were like to see an ear, nose and throat specialist. I figured it would be weeks. 

But later that morning I got the call, and my appointment was booked for 11:30 a.m. that Tuesday – yeah, layout day at the newspaper. Thinking this would likely take all day, I whipped into the office early, laid out the front page and then headed off to the Gatineau Hospital, not really sure when I would be back (but I knew the paper was in good hands).

What’s so impressive about this whole thing is that I was back in the newsroom by 1:30 p.m. with enough time to proof read the rest of the pages and get the paper out to the printer by our 3 p.m. deadline.

I arrived at the Gatineau Hospital at 11:30 a.m., had a camera shoved up my nose and down my throat (picture a COVID test for about three minutes), and was out of the hospital with a prescription an hour later. Doctors, nurses and administrators at the Gatineau Hospital had no issue speaking to me in English.

In summary, I had an emergency on a Monday night, saw an ER doctor within five hours and was in and out of a specialist appointment the next day, with time to head back to work and get the paper out. In total, it took about 20 hours to see an ER doctor, see a specialist, get a prescription and get back to my life. 

In a province where critics feared English health services would be dropped with the new Santé Quebec, I can report that this was not the case. Others may have had different experiences, but this writer was cared for an excellent and respectful way. 

The Low Down is always looking for healthcare stories, both good and bad. Email us at editor@lowdownonline.com to share your experience. 

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