Holistic care model needed to improve health care in B.C.

Improving health care

As I read a great letter to the editor responding to my recent article on the health-care system, I felt compelled to further that exchange here.

Here is a link to the letter, Health care needs change, for those who missed it,

I agree with the writer, David Jenkins, about much of what he wrote. Jenkins was spot on when he noted, “The issue with health care goes much deeper than which government is throwing money at it. What we have is an “injury and illness repair” system that is addicted to money, and like any addict it will always come back for the next hit to feed its habit. There will never be enough.”

Regardless of whether it is the taxpayers paying federally or provincially, health care is one system that is perpetuated by these limited dollars. But if it isn’t working for people, why?

As we hear the stories of our imploding system of care, one must ask – who is benefitting from this system?

Jenkins letter appropriately describes those stakeholders.

“This is a self-perpetuating system because there are so many interests in seeing it continue—high-paying careers for medical professionals and administrators, lucrative supply contracts for medical equipment and pharmaceutical companies, great photo ops for politicians as they are seen to be doing something, opening yet another expensive “injury and illness repair” facility. Where is there any incentive to kill the goose that lays the golden egg? Just inject the next cash fix.”

So how do we fix it? I believe we need a systemic change that focuses on individual and community wellness, rather than just repairing injuries and illnesses.

The way that funding is given should also be examined. Why is the system giving the money to the institution, instead of following the patients and their outcomes?

The writer correctly identified that our health-care system is addicted to money. The inefficiency and bloat in the system is one of the reasons we don’t have enough primary care doctors and have the highest per capita cost system in the world. It’s also why our waitlists increase and our health outcomes are plummeting.

However, I believe this addiction is not limited to the health-care industry, but is a societal problem. We are a society that has become addicted to quick fixes and instant gratification, which has led to a rise in chronic illnesses and a burden on our health-care system.

It is also true personal lifestyle choices have a significant impact on the health-care system. Poor diet, lack of exercise and addictive behaviours all contribute to the burden on the system. However, one must also recognize that there are many societal factors that contribute to these lifestyle choices, including poverty, lack of access to healthy food options and inadequate public spaces for physical activity.

But even with these circumstances and pressures, I have to believe a new, holistic system could be created and we can make changes to health care that will focus on prevention and wellness. We need to take this holistic approach to health care that addresses these underlying societal factors, in addition to promoting individual responsibility for wellness.

This will require collaboration between government, healthcare professionals, and individuals. It will also require political courage and leadership by the political parties controlling the system.

I appreciate hearing from David Jenkins, and everyone who takes the time to write or call me. I really do read and listen to every message that comes in!.

I thought that the points made were important to respond to publicly so we can all (think about) them.

My question to you is this:

Do you think that we would benefit from a more holistic care model?

I love hearing from you. You can email me at [email protected] or call the office at 250-712-3620.

Renee Merrifield is the B.C. Liberal MLA for Kelowna-Mission.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Renee Merrifield is the BC United MLA for Kelowna - Mission and the Opposition critic for Environment and Climate Change, as well as Gender, Equity and Inclusion.  She currently serves on the Select Standing Committee for Finance as well.

A long-time resident of Kelowna, Renee started, and continues to lead, many businesses from construction and development to technology. Renee is a compassionate individual who cares about others in the community, believes in giving back and helping those in need through service.

She values your feedback and conversation, and can be reached at [email protected] or 250.712.3620

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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