BlessWorld Foundation International

Affecting the World Through Health
A Global Health Initiative

Archive for April, 2023

It was a beautiful Sunday noon to have some fried rice and a glass of apple-grape juice. So I thought, until the juice glass broke in my hands leaving a deep ugly tear on my left pinky finger! What an inconvenience, I just wanted to eat and my day was already planned.

Too bad… an emergency that would reroute my entire day had just begun.

Thank God my sister was home. I screamed and sent my little one running up the stairs to get her aunt. I stood still, isolated by glass and a pool of blood as I watched my poor finger…  wondering how much damage was done and if she’d ever make it alive. My sister came running, screaming at the gory sight and ready to dial 911. She immediately  grabbed a bandage from her first aid kit and gave me to wrap the wound and stop the bleeding. While she dialled 911, I ran my finger over the kitchen tap and wrapped the bandage around the wound.

“Hello, how can I help you?” asked the emergency respondent. “I have a deep cut and I need help!” I blurted. After a few more questions bordering on  violence, our call was redirected to EMT and we were  asked for our address so an ambulance would be dispatched.

I’m not sure what discouraged me. It could be  the sudden realization of the cost of an ambulance, or the fact that being quite conscious, I could definitely afford to get to the ER myself, at least, leaving the limited EMT for life threatening emergencies. At once, I declined the offer, and my sister booked an uber instead, headed to the nearest emergency room. I grabbed my health-card, IDs and wallet while my sister prepared to clean the glass-juice-blood mess and take care of my little one. Off I went (around 1pm), and in about 26 minutes, I was in one of Canada’s Emergency Room.

It didn’t matter if you came by EMT or uber, you were greeted by a most likely nonchalant lady (in my case) and then asked a redundant question:” Are you here to see a Doctor?” “Well, I don’t know. I’m here to see whoever the hell will suture my wound” I thought. I certainly didn’t think I needed a doctor but I guess that is the only profession that can suture a wound in Canada. A pinky finger wound. And clearly, it didn’t matter if you had to wait 5 hours for one. So, I said yes and was pointed to the line up of “emergency” patients waiting to be registered to see a doctor.

When you hear emergency room, what comes to mind? 

If you’ve ever watched a series on medical  movies such as Greys Anatomy or New Amsterdam, you’d  think an ER as a busy, fast paced environment where injured and sick people who need urgent care are treated and given immediate attention. Have you ever been to a real life ER? Quite the opposite… more like a dull room filled with long line ups,  check-in desk, long wait times and even longer wait times!

Maybe a deep cut on the finger that gushed blood wasn’t “emergency” enough. Maybe reporting I felt numb when asked to rate my pain level on a scale of 1 to 10 was the problem. Maybe it didn’t matter the kind of ailment one had, the same fate awaited us all. I was not alone.  After hours of waiting, I was moved to yet another wait room and then finally, to the suture room at 6pm  where the good  doctor showed up after a while. At this time, the wound which was just fresh and numb when I arrived had become painful and swollen. I could never understand why the problem of long wait times have lingered in the Canadian health care system and to be fair, many  publicly funded healthcare systems. Hundreds of research and millions of dollars later, it doesn’t seem like there’s been much of a headway- at least, in this case.

A potential solution to this persistent problem of long wait times may be increasing the training and clinical privileges of non-doctor health professionals to reduce the burden on Doctors. Research documents a similar method termed task-shifting which was adopted during the covid-19 pandemic to maximize human resources in healthcare.