The sad story of health care, recreation and social media

"The mere notion that a doctor could refuse to treat a patient because of political views defies explanation."

The revelation last week that two Trail councillors were refused treatment at the Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital raises issues on so many levels.

The mere notion that a doctor could refuse to treat a patient because of political views defies explanation.

Perhaps that’s why the Interior Health Authority offered a standard PR response and a “no comment” when contacted by the Trail Times.

The idea that anyone connected to health care in our country could simply refuse on the grounds “they didn’t want to,” seems troubling at the least.

It obviously opens the door to so much other abuse.

No care for the reporter who wrote the story?

No care for the teacher that gave the doctor’s child a bad grade?

No care for the car dealer that sold a lemon to the doctor?

No care for anyone associated with a company whose telemarketer called at suppertime?

The fact that IHA hasn’t publicly come out and condemned such actions by its employees begs the question, “Who are they taking care of – the patients or the professionals?”

That said, the entire affair also shines a light on the contentious state of the recreation issue.

There are several stories how the current method of enforcing fees has caused distressed.

Not only have councillors been refused treatment at the hospital, another involves parents stunned by the cost facing them for bringing their large family for a swim at the pool.

Or a child unable to share in after-program snacks because they live in a different region that didn’t contribute to the recreation program.

The ripple effects of the current recreation climate continue to impact the very people the facilities are meant to serve.

The one light at the end of the tunnel is a renewed effort by newly-elected representatives to settle this issue and offer an equitable solution that works for everyone.

However, even if the recreation issue is resolved, the matter of a doctor refusing to treat a patient over personal feelings should send a shiver through anyone heading to an emergency room.

Who is on call? Have I done anything that might offend that doctor? Will the doctor provide the best possible care for me or perhaps only enough to send me home because outright refusal would cause too much bad publicity?

Those are questions we should never be asking in a country that boasts universal health care.

However, now it is a legitimate question. If it can happen to one person in a small town, it can happen again.

It’s unfortunate that the actions of one doctor will paint everyone’s apprehension of who cares for them at the Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital, which is staffed by so many caring and attentive health care workers.

It’s also unfortunate Interior Health isn’t taking a bigger stance on this.

Sadly IHA did offer a token “apology” when contacted by the CBC. No such apology was forthcoming when the Trail Times made the same contact days before.

Again, a bigger magnifying glass got different results.

In a country where we would hope people are treated the same, especially when it comes to health care, the opposite is rearing its head.

*****

The sidebar to this sad tale is to read the CBC’s abbreviated version of the story then the torrent of comments on its website.

If anything, it confirms the fact that just because you have a computer doesn’t make you any smarter.

In fact, some of the idiotic comments only reinforce my theory on people who post comments. While many are thought provoking, there are enough idiots out there who can derail sensible conversation into sensationalistic.

I’m always amazed when credible news organizations refer to “an online backlash,” over a story or a comment.

First of all the over-used word “backlash” is generated by a small percentage of people who appear to simply enjoy seeing their name or nickname show up on national websites.

Their comments are usually so far removed from correct that it borders on comedy.

A co-worker perfectly summed up most comment sections on the Internet with “I wasn’t listening but I strongly disagree.”

Yet for some reason national news reporters love to see 1,000 comments on a story.

If most are negative then the next story can respond to the “outrage on social media,” even if the comments are written by someone just trolling websites.

The world’s fascination with everything “social media,” continues to be a sad commentary on the state of our society.

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