Saturday, January 09, 2010

Pandemic Silver Linings - Our Health Care System is in Need of them

That 4 character alpha-numeric acronym from last year that was in the news every single day, especially when a second wave of flu, and the vaccine became available, brought a silver lining. It is not a surprise silver perk, but handwashing and virus containment efforts and awareness needed to be increased just to decrease regular flu and disease anyway. It will be interesting to see if there will be a marked difference in hospitals and clinic visits over the next year or two because there had been less spread of disease.

Right now, there is still a great deal of stress on health care workers to keep up with the demand of sick people. Those seriously ill need the most attention, but there are inefficiencies in organization and communication in sectors of health care like cancer treatment, and that ultimately is at the detriment of patients, but also doctors and caregivers.

The H1N1 pandemic and vaccination process was a nuisance to live amidst. However, everywhere you go these days, there are hand sanitizers, soaps, sanitized towelettes, and hand washing notices. People ask for it if it isn't there. The gym I go to has a number of those sanitizers on their walls. Gyms have been good incubators for germs, with so many hands using the same equipment continually. Sanitation workers at least in gyms, are wiping the handles, and equipment that people touch, and not just cleaning windows and surfaces that don't pose the bigger risk. Users are expected to do wipe down equipment as well, not just with a water spray bottle but with sanitized paper. So we as a society may have moved forward an extra step in taking measures to reduce illness. Hopefully those habits and education will continue.

Many problems are preventable, and some, despite your best lifestyle habits, just happen. Serious diseases happen and require the special skills of those trained to treat them. The more we as a society can reduce the demand on hospital staff and resources, the happier everyone will be. The more stress and demands we make on our doctors and health workers, then maybe those out of province offers just start to look a bit more enticing.

One lesson from many to be learned from the H1N1 experience, is that we can reduce and have a big impact on the spread of disease, and the demand it places on our health care system. Back in Sept. I posted a write-up on how we can can prepare for H1N1, and included a description of how hard it could hit hospitals, taking the Winnipeg experience as an example. If preventative measures were promoted more for positive lifestyle changes, we could make ourselves healthier, and hence, and hopefully bring more silver linings to help make our health care system work best for all concerned.


Jon said...

one thing that kind of urked me about this though:

jean chretien was on the board of a big corporation that owned the company producing the vaccine and making lots of $$$...

this same big company also owns CTV and the globe and mail... the ones who brought the panic...

i always wonder at what's going on behind the scenes... perhaps i'm a bit paranoid!?!


hope you're well charlie

charlie said...

Thanks for your comment Jon. That's interesting to know. I have doubts about big corporations and influential connections like this too. Whether it's a oil and gas, or some product, it will be pushed, however, the virus itself was real, and though it did not take a lot of lives compared to past pandemics of that similar strain, it did put strain on hospitals. I heard first hand from a couple of critical care Drs. about the H1N1 experience from other hospitals in Canada. It had the potential to really cause much havoc in all hospitals, and I think that part of the reason for less infection was a growing awareness of ways to reduce it, and the vaccine itself. But we should always question things, and seek the truth of the matter.

Best regards to you Jon.