We hear so many horror stories about Canadian hospital health care that getting ill or needing emergency assistance is enough to induce an off the wall anxiety attack. I know because I had one last Friday night. I had a small Shabbat dinner and as I was walking my friend to his car my knee locked and I suddenly went crashing down on my right ankle. I didn't hear the 'crunch' but when I could get up immediately I knew I was facing, at least, a very bad sprain.
Being a former ballet dancer means that I am not a stranger to either to pain or sprained ankles. Gabriel carried me to chair and packed my foot with ice. He wanted to take me to the hospital and being an Israeli, he has yet to feel or understand the dread the very idea of visiting a hospital induces in Canadians. I insisted I would be fine. I showed him I could wiggle my toes which goes to prove that old adage of it not being a fracture bone if one can still wiggle one's extremities is false. The truth is, I have extremely strong toes, toes stronger enough - even to this day - that I can pick up all kinds of unnatural things with my toes, if I so choose. Very reluctantly he left me.
By 2:00p.m. Saturday afternoon, I knew I would have to go to the hospital and face the inevitable. I was still hoping for a very bad sprain but the pain was very different from any sprain I had experienced in my career. My son carried me out the door and into a cab. I live in the midst of at least 4 major hospitals and raising three children means I have had experiences at all of the them. I chose Mount Sinai, only because, I was so impressed with the treatment both my son and daughter have received there in the past. Need a CAT scan or an MRI? Mount Sinai has it arranged in hours or within in three days at the most.
We arrived at in the emergency room at 3:00p.m., and seen right away. After the initial nurse triage examine and paper work filled out, I was sent to the waiting room. A brief stay in the waiting room and then I was wheeled into an examining room. Maybe it took 10 minutes - tops. Five minutes after I in the examining room, I was being wheeled into the x-rays room – and attended to immediately. By the time I was wheeled back into the examining room, my x-rays were up on the examining room screens. Ten minutes later I was examined by a resident. Ten minutes later, the resident was conferring with the attending doctor. A fiber-glass air cast was fitted ten minutes later. I was fully discharged and loaded with instructions. The longest single wait I experienced was waiting for a cab to arrive at the emergency entrance to take me home. I was back home and fully kitted out with crutches, cast and drugs by 4:30pm.
Now, maybe I was lucky, and it would be foolish not to see an element of luck in the timing working for me, but this is my 4th experience at Mount Sinai. And each time, I am amazed at the speed and quality of care. I suspect that a great deal of those Canadian hospital horror stories happen due to dysfunctional management policies of individual hospital administrations rather than signs of a 'broken' health care system. If this is indeed the case, maybe it's time to take a long hard look at how and who is running our hospitals.