Language of marketplace creeping into health-care system

Sir: Bluewater Health’s only hospital in Sarnia is not a retail outlet. Yet the experience of going to Patient Registration, only to be summoned by an automated call system as “customer number 713,” is jarring.

Surely we aren’t taking a number at a service centre for an oil change.

For over a year, numerous email exchanges with Bluewater Health’s courteous but non-committal administration led to my being advised that the current and automated “customer” call system is too difficult and too expensive to modify. A single word change cannot be accommodated.

In an apparent effort to ease my mind, I was advised there is “…a growing group of healthcare experts who prefer the term customer over patient.”

I was referred to two U.S. experts. I did follow-up.

The first was a consulting firm aimed at the collaboration of “industry experts and independent contractors” to build brand identity, advertising campaigns, and health-care marketing strategies.

The second was a blogger promoting entrepreneurship, who noted “some health care innovators are basing their businesses on the concept of customer” and that “calling your customer a ‘patient’ communicates a lack of respect.”

These U.S. examples indicate the marketplace mindset is creeping into Canadian health care, and perhaps the care-for-profit theme insidiously slides in with it.

Expertise from other countries could better guide our health-care thinking, where new paradigms note “…public services are quite different from the realm of markets;” that “…citizens are more than consumers;” and “…market-driven reforms in the public service have adversely affected its relationship with the general public.”

I would hope readers who have experienced the personal dismay of “customer” status at Patient Registration, or who have attended Bluewater Health board meetings where our human health-care system is often described as an “industry,” will contact CEO Mike Lapaine, mlapaine@bluewaterhealth.ca. to convey this simple but significant message:

Bluewater Health’s website states that, “We take great pride in our legacy of patient care.”

Surely its leadership can stop referring to compassionate health care as an industry, and can find the wherewithal to stop calling us customers of the very service we ourselves own.

Bob Sutton

Camlachie


The real hypocrisy coming from the Trudeau government, MP says

Sir: I am glad to see that the President of the Liberal Association in Sarnia, Eileen Viola, is reading my Federal Express mail-outs and that she recognizes that getting Sarnia Lambton $60 million in funding for the College, for clean tech, for the bio industry, for rural intranet etc. is quite an accomplishment when you are in Opposition.

In fact, the Liberals would not have been so supportive of our community’s needs if I wasn’t constantly advocating and working to receive funding.  However, Eileen has called me out for “hypocrisy” for not approving the Liberal budgets in 2016 and 2017, both of which contained many things we don’t support.

You know what hypocrisy is? This Liberal government … Remember the promises? “We will run a small deficit of $10 billion” – Not; It was 28 billion last year and another 30 billion this year.

How about “We will balance the budget in our four year mandate” – Not; It will be 2055 according to the Finance department.

What about “this will be the last year under First Past–the-Post electoral system”? Not.

Remember, “We will restore home mail delivery?” Recall their promises on the Missing and Murdered Aboriginal inquiry? Reducing taxes on small business? Hello – Seriously?

What about “We are going to be open and transparent” – Not; the Liberals gave Omar Khadr $10.5 million of taxpayer’s dollars with no parliamentary oversight or discussion while we were sitting in the House of Commons until midnight in June of 2017.

The definition of hypocrisy is the Liberal government.

Thanks for the opportunity to set the record straight.

Best regards,

Marilyn Gladu

MP Sarnia Lambton


Waste, mismanagement bigger issues than MP’s mail-out

Sir: Re: Stanton Earle’s letter of Sept. 7, “Trudeau has kept many of party’s election promises.”

My reply to Mr. Earle’s original letter seems to have hit a nerve. Mr. Earle has every right to comment on our MP’s mail-out. However, after addressing the issue, he continues to make statements that were inaccurate and disrespectful.

I never claimed that Donald Trump was responsible for Canadian economic growth since Trudeau became prime minister. Mr. Earle needs to reset his pause button.

Upon reviewing my letter, he will discover that his statement is false. Several reasons were given for an increase in the GDP in Canada, and none of them had anything to do with politicians.

Mr. Earle likes to give too much credit to his Liberal friends and Trudeau. Most jobs are created in the private sector by small businesses and to some extent large corporations. When people are working, making money in the stock market and experiencing windfall gains in the value of their homes, they have much more discretionary spending.

These factors create a “multiplier effect” that provides tremendous benefit to the GDP. This is classic Economics 101.

Fifteen years of waste, mismanagement and scandal under the provincial Liberals has created economic hardship for many families in Ontario. Apparently, 42% of people live paycheque to paycheque. The provincial debt, hydro and service fees have gone up continually and services are being cut.

Since Trudeau became PM he has taken a small surplus and turned it into gigantic deficits. One study says the federal government will be running huge deficits until 2050.

Who is going to pay for these outrageous deficits in the future? Since the middle class pays the greatest percentage of taxes, the burden will eventually fall on them and the next generation.

Mr. Earle can recite some election promises that Trudeau may have kept, but they will be fleeting. Just look at the mess in Ontario.

Perhaps I am missing something. As a passionate Canadian who is not affiliated with any political party, waste, mismanagement and possibly political corruption are much greater concern to me than our MP’s mail-out.

Richard George

Sarnia


The ‘Squirrel Man’ asks drivers to slow down in front of park

Sir: Hello. My name is Harry Anderson, also known as the ‘Squirrel Man, the “Bird Feeder” and the “Animal Lover.” I live on South Christina Street, across from Rainbow Park.

I have had many of my little pet squirrels hit and killed recently, and have even seen drivers speed up to run them over.

Last year I posted signs asking drivers to Please Slow Down in front of the park, where many children and squirrels cross the road.

The city removed them after a few weeks, so I sat beside the road with a sign that read,” Please Slow Down and Watch Out.”

I asked the city to post proper signs, but they said no one had died there so there was no need. I told them that’s stupid, because all city parks should have signs warning drivers to Slow Down.

I have had many of my ‘wild pets’ run over and killed. A few have survived, but I have also picked up and buried many of them.

I have many lovely outdoor pets, including squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons, bunnies, possums and cats, and many kinds of birds including hawks, geese and ducks that come looking for food.

I am happy to say I’ve had people walking and biking through Rainbow Park who stopped and offered me money to help feed them all, but I haven’t taken a cent. Homeless people have even put bread in the front yard to share with them.

I spend around $300 to $400 a month on peanuts, bread and sunflower seeds, but it is worth it for me. I am not a boozer or a druggie so I spend it on my loving pets.

I know many people think I am crazy to spend so much, even the workers at the grocery stores and the taxi drivers. But I have met some nice people here and I hope to meet many more.

So, I thank all those drivers who slow down. And anyone who reads this, please remember next time you drive by my place to watch out and slow down for those crossing the road.

Harry Anderson

Sarnia