Ontario health officials managed to find a hospital bed for a critically ill Canadian who was languishing in a Mexican hospital because he was told there was no room for him in his hometown of London, Ontario.
After appeals to newly-appointed Ontario Minister of Health Helena Jaczek and an uproar in the provincial legislature Wednesday afternoon, a bed was located for Stuart Cline, 71, the London Free Press reports. It’s in St. Catherine’s, 120 miles from Cline’s home.
Cline’s daughter-in-law Alejandra Cline, who did most of the footwork to flag the situation for the health ministry, said Thursday they are ready to go home.
“He’s still in critical condition, but he’s ready and able to fly home. We don’t want to be here anymore. We’ve already been here one week,” she told the London Free Press.
The incident is providing critics of Canada’s “free” universal medicare with yet another example of the deficiencies of single-payer health care.
As the National Post reports, Stuart Cline, 71, fell while on vacation in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, bursting blood vessels in his brain. After being rushed to a local hospital, Mexican caregivers were able to stabilize Cline’s condition to the point where he could fly back to Canada for further medical attention.
But there were no empty beds in London.
Cline’s family appealed to both their provincial and federal legislative representatives. Alejandra Cline sent an email to London West Member of the Provincial Parliament (MPP) Peggy Sattler:
Sattler, who sits as an opposition MPP, solicited assistance from the Ontario ministry of health and its regional representatives but were unsuccessful in finding a staffed bed — until the story broke this week. She told the Post on Tuesday, “It’s scary. It really is unacceptable.”
“He needs to get home…Our hospital system has failed them,” she said.
The MPP suggested that the Ontario government routinely overbooks its hospital rooms, sometimes exceeding their capacity: that means even emergency operations have to be postponed because there’s no recovery room.
Despite being considered by many Democrats as model of publicly-funded health care, Medicare in Canada has been castigated by several reports in the last year from the Vancouver-based conservative think-tank The Fraser Institute. Most recently, the group demonstrated how wait times for simple operations have more than doubled in the last 25 years while 63,000 Canadians sought medical assistance outside of their country in 2016 — usually in the United States.