It happened at about 5:15 this morning. I stood in an almost empty parking lot next to a locked building. The lights were on inside. I could see a medical clerk at her desk preparing for the onslaught of Canadian coughers, sniffers and general I-need-to-see-the-doctor folks that would soon fill the waiting room faster than an overflowing toilet in a land without plungers.
While I stared at the woman behind the glass (and, no, that’s not the creepy part) a lady about my age climbed out of her car and walked up to me.
“This is ridiculous,” she said, “it’s five thirty in the morning and we’re standing in line. What’s going on?”
I don’t know. You tell me. You’re the one wandering around before the sun comes up asking questions. Well, that’s what I wanted to say, but I just kept smiling.
I know, strange.
Then, this woman decided to kick this whole creepy thing up a notch. No, she did not try to kiss me or break into an Emeril Lagasse cooking demonstration in the middle of the parking lot.
But, hey, before I freak you out with juicy tidbits of what happened next, let me tell you how we DID get to be standing in an almost empty parking lot at 5:15 in the morning.
It all started with my mother.
At almost 80 years old she got the notion that she was some kind of geriatric party girl looking for a good time.
And, she took me along.
Mom started this medical service spree by waking me up VERY early a week ago Sunday. I didn’t know that people were even allowed outside in the middle of the night.
Certainly strange. Possibly creepy. We drove to the White Rock emergency room. Great place. But, not much going on.
Maybe that’s why she decided to really ramp up this Sunday morning and visit every walk-in clinic this side of the Frazier River. After driving by one long line up, we headed to White Rock medical clinic.
What a bust.
Sometime between our last visit and yesterday, they changed their name to Hearing Clinic. And, obviously, hearing anything on a Sunday was not a priority in their book. They were closed.
We finally ended up at the Panorama office. Lots of germs. Really drafty. Mom took my coat and covered her legs to keep warm. I froze.
This morning was the grand finale. We headed out to see mom’s general practitioner of 20 plus years. Early.
That’s how I came to be standing in the predawn in the middle of a parking lot with a stranger.
“Can’t believe we are standing in line. Early in the morning,” the stranger said. She then paused and waited for me to match rant for rant. You know, the female dog thing and all.
“What about the States?” I countered unexpectedly, “Some people don’t have any health care at all. And if they do, they still have to co-pay.”
She looked at me as if I’d just told her we should all make hats out of tin-foil to keep the government from reading our minds.
“Co-pay,” I shared with the authority of one who has skyped relatives in Idaho, Oklahoma and Arizona, “you know, you pay monthly for health care but then you pay individual user fees. Sometimes it’s like 40 or 50 dollars.”
I thought she would be shocked considering the fact that Canadians pay a very reasonable fee each month according to their income and no per visit, hospital stay or procedure fee.
- Did she burst out in some kind of show stopping Broadway musical tune?
- Did she put her arms down by her side and Riverdance her joy of being Canadian?
Seriously, all I got was a blank stare.
Stranger danger? Considering her age and mine, I think not.
She finally said, “I remember when doctors used to make house calls”. Her eyes widened with sadness and longing for a better time, more gentle era.
Rethink stranger danger. Her attitude was killing me.
“And,” she continued, “ if we wanted to go to the doctor’s office when I was young just walked down the street to the clinic. We just went right in. No line ups. No full quotas.”
Hopefully what ever was effecting this lady’s brain was not contagious.
So what if she had to get out of bed a little early? So what if she had to stand in line to see one of the best practitioners in the lower mainland? She had made no appointment. But she could come anyway. Ultimately, she would leave the clinic without paying a Loonie.
Pretty cool, this
- publically funded health care system system
- guided by the provisions of the Canada Health Act of 1984.
After thirty years of working the bugs out, it’s fairly simple to maneuver. As my good friend Wiki explains, “A health card is issued by the Provincial Ministry of Health to each individual who enrolls for the program and everyone receives the same level of care”.
That’s what I’m talking about.
Sure, life is hard. Winters are cold. And, the good Lord knows our healthcare system is NOT perfect.( Duh, that’s what being omniscient is all about.) But, it is affordable for every single Canadian regardless of
- financial hardship
- or medical history.
No one is turned away.
So what if a doctor doesn’t come to your door anymore?