EscapeRevolution

Escape Revolution

How Ontario’s cuts to public health will hurt our patients

Emergency entrance at Michael Garron Hospital in Toronto.

The following is an excerpt from an open letter to the Ontario government written by Ottawa medical residents Daniel Bierstone, MD, (paediatrics) and Catherine Brown, MD, (public health and preventive medicine) and signed by more than 100 resident physicians across Ontario:

We are a group of resident physicians – doctors training to be family physicians and specialists – in Ontario. While still in training, we are already working on the frontline providing important healthcare services.

Already our offices and hospitals are operating at maximum capacity, leading to “hallway medicine.” As residents, we witness this strain on a daily basis. We are concerned that if the Ontario government cuts essential preventive services the current situation can only get worse.

Therefore we are writing regarding your announced $200-million cut to public health funding in Ontario. We are deeply concerned about the impact this cut is going to have on our patients.

Throughout our medical training we have been taught the importance of disease prevention as one of the most important tools to keep people well and out of hospital.

Let us share some experiences from our day-to-day practice on the importance of public health:

  • Most of us have never seen a case of measles, pertussis or diphtheria. Knowing about these diseases in theory rather than in practice is due to the work performed by Public Heath to ensure every Ontarian is vaccinated, thereby preventing these diseases from gaining a foothold in our communities. Public Health’s role has become even more important in this era of vaccine hesitancy.
  • We see many children in the Emergency Department suffering from asthma exacerbations triggered by second-hand smoke. Public Health connects parents with quit-smoking resources and works to monitor and decrease air pollution in our communities.
  • We see young adults in our family medicine clinic with new sexually transmitted infections like gonorrhea. We don’t have the resources to follow up with all the sexual contacts of new cases. Public Health does that for us; they work to keep these diseases from spreading.
  • We see patients of all ages with severe vomiting and diarrhea from food poisoning. We could be seeing a lot more; Public Health inspects restaurants and closes those that are unsafe.
  • We see adults coming in to the emergency room having overdosed on opioids. Public Health provides clean equipment to prevent new hepatitis and HIV infections and provides safe and supervised settings to reverse potentially lethal overdoses when they occur.
  • We know from experience that our sickest patients are often the poorest and most vulnerable. Public Health creates policies and programming specifically to support these people – such as Healthy Smiles Ontario to provide dental care to children from low-income families.

We join with those affirming the value of a strong public health system in Ontario. If your government truly is committed to ending “hallway medicine” and providing the possibility of healthier lives, we urge you to reconsider the proposed significant budget cuts to Public Health.

[“source=thestar”]