April 16, 2006

GONE WITH THE WIND

The Cost of Care (Alistair Brown, The Walrus, April, 2006)

Unable to get a university education in her native Romania, Elena Mihu emigrated to Canada, arriving in 1986. She was alone, with a dental technician's certificate and a hunger for knowledge. In less than ten years, she taught herself English, was accepted into university, and graduated from McMaster University's medical school. She also owed the government $100,000 in student loans and dearly missed the rural life of her childhood. On weekends she and her husband, Jean-Claude, would drive north in search of country property. On one such trip they found both the perfect home and a "Doctor Wanted" notice pinned to the door of the Kinmount township office.

The sign was not new. For almost six years there had been no local health services in Kinmount, Ontario—no family doctor, no immediate emergency care, with the nearest hospital some twenty kilometres away. The town, cradled by a long bend of the Burnt River at the edge of the Haliburton Highlands, numbered almost 400 permanent inhabitants. Several thousand more people lived in the immediate townships, and each summer the population increased significantly. If you fell ill here, however, you were on your own.

Then suddenly, in 1999, the sign was taken down and a banner welcoming Mihu replaced it. Kinmount, miraculously, had acquired a family physician...

A both depressing and inspiring short story that weaves together public healthcare madness, immigration and rural decline.


Posted by Peter Burnet at April 16, 2006 7:34 PM
Comments

it only took me 5 years to learn english.

socialized medicine isn't social and it isn;t medicine.

Posted by: toe at April 16, 2006 8:40 PM

toe, it wasn't obvious that you are one of us who was born in the wrong country. So glad you're home now.

Were you school age when you got here? I was born here, but didn't learn a word of English until I was sent to the first grade without having the slightest idea what was going on.

It's a family joke that when I went home for lunch on that first day, I told my mother that they, meaning the nuns and other students, didn't know how to talk. It never occurred to me that I was the one who didn't know how to talk . . . well I learned and the rest is history.

Socialized medicine? It can't work just like any other thing you can imagine for which there is central planning to take into account every contingency for a continent wide set of people and circumstances.

Posted by: erp at April 16, 2006 9:34 PM

You mean every town of 400 in the U.S.A. has a family doctor? Don't all doctors want to be on call 24 hours a day, every day, every month, all year long?

Or are you counting illegal immigrant witch doctors from Haiti?

Posted by: Randall Voth at April 17, 2006 4:07 AM

My God, the nearest hospital is over 12 miles away........how long does it take, on snowshoes, to get there?

Posted by: ed at April 17, 2006 11:31 PM
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