Fighting for the Right Free

Everyone wants free things. And people will take what they can get if it’s free, no doubt. But the question is: how do you get a better free? The right kind free. Often you can’t ask for a better free because well it’s free, and what could possibly be better than free?

~A Comment on the Canadian Health Care System~

The other day a lady told me how her husband had to wait for his hip replacement surgery a week too long. He might die because of this. If he was younger, healthy, or stronger maybe the waiting lists, the outdated morphine and the shiny new bacterial infection spreading down his right leg wouldn’t be such a big deal. But for the elderly and for those with a compromised immune system, everything is a big deal. From the air you breathe to the seconds after your food left the fridge.

“I’m going to document everything, everything wrong with that Oshawa Hospital,” She shook her head, on the verge of tears. She mumbled something about not being home in a week, having a million things to do, lacking sleep. She looked up and asked me, “Have you ever been to that hospital?”Frustration and anger etched over her face, an eye-witness alone in her perception of injustice.

“My mom died in that hospital,” I told her. She could suddenly make sense of me, my willingness to understand this random rant from a complete stranger.

“I’m going to change things,” She said, “You’ll see. They won’t get away with this. According to Canadian Law you can’t have a patient waiting in the halls on a hospital bed for over a week. Not when he’s already scheduled for an emergency surgery!”She shook her head and wiped away her tears, “I should have brought him to Buffalo, New York. That way they’d take our money and give us what we needed!”

But our health care is free and we take what we can get. We take the waiting lists. We take the staff shortages, the blood shortages. In the U.S, complaints of astronomical fees keep us all wary, thankful for our blessed universal healthcare. Nightmarish stories of people with chopped off fingers being denied healthcare, of Asthma patients living without treatment, of one ambulance servicing an entire city because of low general income, all keep us fearful of complaining. “At least we don’t have to put our house on mortgage to pay for treatments,” we say, or, “Breaking Bad wouldn’t even happen in Canada, they’d just begin treatment the next week. DONE.” And the truth is, Canadians ARE lucky. We pay for our healthcare through our taxes, basically we’re forced to take care of ourselves and our people. We do have it great, honestly I wouldn’t have it any other way.

But that doesn’t mean things don’t have to change, change for the better. If a patient with enough money can be treated within hours of admittance in a Florida hospital, with the best plans, the best protocols, and the best management why can’t we? It’s funny how money and the prospect of business can increase the quality of service. Suddenly everything is faster, better, newer. Suddenly fiduciary obligation doesn’t seem such a moral labor. If you pay, you get the best. Money can’t make you live forever, but it can make you live longer. FACT.

I’m not asking for royal treatment, I’m not lobbying for mass shipments of state-of-the-arc equipment, of world-class surgeons or for importing the latest drugs seconds after their discovery. That would be nice. But I truly believe that so much of healthcare can be improved by mere protocol, management, awareness and treatment algorithms, simple changes that can change lives and make a better free healthcare. Because we have no other option. So we might as well fight for the best free.

It’s not a luxury to fight for an improved universal healthcare. When it’s the only system we have, it’s a necessity. Protocol, treatment plans, awareness, timing, trusting doctors to provide the best care and to advocate for their patients; these are aspects of our healthcare that are not optimal. If you had all the money in the world it couldn’t make it optimal. Not in Canada. Our healthcare is political. Let’s start petitioning for it! No apologizing.

As part of the Sickle Cell In Me Community, we are petitioning for better Sickle Cell Protocol, a disease massively misunderstood, stigmatized and overlooked by professionals and Medical school curriculum. Finding Felicity’s first petition, Canadians please sign!


There will be more, undoubtedly related to blood disorders, specifically leukemia, a disease that kills people with its treatment before letting them die from it.

Free is great! But death is free. And you don’t see any service improvements there.

Dai Meng Martina

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