Chapter 5

An animated gif of MRI images of a human head....
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Well, this morning was something special. I was watching my usual show Breakfast Television on City TV. During a commercial break I saw a very informative ad  from the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care;  advising me that I am now able to find out how long it will take me to get an MRI.

I recently discussed this issue in Chapter 4. of the Painie Chronicles. It discussed what Diagnostic Tests are and linked to the appropriate sites. It also discussed this very program run by the Ministry.

Here is a brief synopsis of what the Ministry has done:

  • We all can go online to find out how long it will take to get a diagnostic test.
  • We can find out where the shortest wait time is
  • We can find out the closest facilities – based on data input by the individual
  • We now know about this program from a very expensive marketing campaign involving, Print, Television and Online media coverage.

I ask you, what good does that information do us? It might if we were able to do the following:

  • Use the facility of our (patients’) choice
  • We were able to select the date and time of our appointment
  • We could have our physician order whatever test we wanted

Then maybe, just maybe this would have been money well spent.

However, here are the facts:

  • The physician you see has privileges at certain facilities – so you are kind of at their mercy as to where you go.
  • It is very difficult to get a physician to order a diagnostic test. Believe me I have tried. They are not that willing to have them done.
  • You pretty much have no choice in appointment time/date. The facility will contact you with a date and time. If you are not free for that time, then it could be days – weeks – months even before you get another slot……but I guess you could go on-line and find out how long it might be.
  • Your appointment are booked based on severity of illness. If you have obvious/crippling symptoms or your physician feels it is urgent you will get in faster. If this diagnostic test is to try to discover an Invisible Illness – you are at the mercy of the facilities/physicians discretion.

See how valuable that wait time information is?

Why is it so difficult to get a test ordered or why a long wait time? Well, simply put, these tests are expensive. They require the following.

  • Staff/Technicians to run the machines
  • Facility to house the machines
  • Radiologist to read results.
  • Administration team to send out, process, record and collect information and reports.
  • Maintenance team to ensure machines are working, upgrades, repairs etc.
  • Board of Directors or team to decide what machine to purchase, when it needs to be replaced etc.
  • Contracts with specific vendors of said machines and maintenance providers

So, all in all, Diagnostic Tests are expensive and difficult to get. With CT and X-ray results showing I have obvious problems in my C/Lumbar and Sacral spine, I am still awaiting an appointment for MRI’s. The request was put in 3 weeks ago. When I say I am waiting, that means I have not received a call from the Hospital to give me a possible appointment time.

Instead of putting money towards actual programs for patients, we are blowing loads of money on nothing. How much do you think the Government spent on this program? Here are some expenses to keep in mind when making your guess.

  • Committee to come up with such a great idea : salaries/benefits/overtime/meeting rooms/refreshments
  • Marketing/PR firm to come up with ads which include
    – actors/directors/crew
    – script
    – editors/graphic designers
    – post production team
    – prime-time ad slots purchased – the most expensive
    – there are more than 1 type of the ads for the Ministry – so please take all the above and multiply by the number of ads. So far I have seen 3.
    – distribution of ads
  • Actual Online Program
    – committee to come up with outline of program, what would be input, etc.
    – web designer to build the site
    – graphic designer to enhance the site
    – writer of site content
    – data personal – people who collected data, input, maintain data
    – maintenance of the overall program
    – team to deal with launch of said program

Those are just a few of the costs involved in this program. So what about taking that money and putting towards the actual patients? Do you think this program mattered to the person who is in crippling, blinding pain? Who does not have the financial resources to afford physiotherapy and is dependent upon medication only. What about the patient who is waiting 6-9 months to get into a specialist or pain clinic? What about the patient who is getting worse, because they are working through the blinding pain and the impact is felt by their spouse and children? What matters more – Public opinion or the PUBLIC themselves?

There is a quick survey I am conducting. The questions require no personal information, just information from Chronic Invisible Illness Patients and what the out of pocket expense has been in a search for a cure, diagnosis or relief. It will take only about 5 minutes of your time and the information will be for the purposes of the article only. We need to let the general public understand and fully comprehend the impact of our illness. We need to ensure that resources are spent on the Health of the people not the Wealth of the contacts.


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