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Healthy Health Care

by Stephen Lautens


December 6

, 2002

Roy Romanow has delivered his verdict - there's nothing wrong with Canada's health care system that $15 billion wouldn't fix. 

That's what so great about hiring former members of the NDP to look into a social crisis - there's no problem so large that it can't be solved by throwing other people's money at it.

Now, $15 billion is a lot of money, unless you want to date Anna Nicole Smith. Not many of us carry that around as folding money. And if you're going to write a cheque for anything like that, they're going to want to see at least two pieces of ID. So to help out I thought about some ways we could cut a few corners to bring the cost down a little bit.

Even though they give you the bum's rush through hospitals these days, patients are still taking up far too much valuable real estate. To solve the problem of beds being filled with trivial things like triple bypass patients, hospitals should install drive through windows at for while-you-wait surgery. If the cost of a hospital stay is prohibitive, just drive up, stick whatever needs operating on out the window, and five minutes later you can drive yourself home.

Hospitals can save a lot by buying costly operating instruments at Canadian Tire. Whenever I watch TV documentaries on hospital surgery I swear they use the same drills, saws and screwdrivers I got for Christmas last year. And they didn't cost thousands of dollars either. The multi tool was just $29.95. With the sander attachment you could even do plastic surgery. Plus you can use your Canadian Tire bonus dollars towards buying a box of screws for putting Mrs. Johnson's hip back together.

Patients are already required to bring their own tissues, pillowcases and over the counter medications. Hospitals could go one step further and require patients to bring their own beds, saving the need for buying expensive furniture. Patients who don't want to carry their own bed always have the option of bringing a sleeping bag. This can make hospital wards feel more like a sleepover than chronic care - and everyone knows an uncomfortable patient is a motivated patient.

The high cost of drugs is a major part of our expensive health care system. We could shave quite a bit off the $15 billion needed if patients were encouraged to make their own drugs. Who knows what you have the cure to sitting around undiscovered under your kitchen sink? The people running Ecstasy and meth labs never look that bright, so I figure the average person has a shot of finding the cure for something. And if you're no good at making your own drugs, just pop one of those extra strong mints in your mouth and pretend it's your heart medicine. They keep saying that for some people placebos work just as well as real drugs - maybe you'll be one of the lucky ones.

More money should be spent on alternative health care providers, like witch doctors. It's been shown - OK, I read it somewhere on the Internet - that half of health problems are caused by bad ju-ju, curses, the evil eye and having your aura out of alignment. Just because it doesn't actually work is no reason to deny them funding. After all, if we only paid for things that work government would be free.

Humour is of course the best medicine. So I'm hoping that some of that $15 billion can be freed up and sent to local newspaper columnists to make sure that generations of Canadians can benefit from a good laugh.

Or at least as good a laugh as $15 billion will buy.

© Stephen Lautens 2002

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