Sunday, April 05, 2009

CF folks in Ireland, part II

More on the wonders of Universal Health Care!
A salient point: (emphases mine)

Cystic fibrosis sufferers again left in the queue
Sunday, April 05, 2009 By Aileen O’Meara
Last week began with another row in the health services which had a familiar theme: should the private sector provide public health services?

This row centred on the issue of long-awaited and necessary facilities for people with cystic fibrosis (CF). The cash-strapped Health Service Executive (HSE) confirmed that it would not have the resources until 2011 ‘‘at the earliest’’ to build the promised special unit for CF sufferers at St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin.

This is a year later than promised after an intense media campaign in January last year, when CF sufferers - led by Orla Tinsley - highlighted the scandalous conditions for cystic fibrosis sufferers in hospitals which lack isolated single rooms to prevent suffers picking up infections. (you must, must, must have single rooms for CF suffers. Without it, you are just compounding the problem. CF patients can spread a bacteria called b.cepacia, that is highly dangerous and only dangerous to the CF population. That's why CF kids can't play together anymore, or have camps, without wearing masks and being in a large space. The fact that they do not have this most basic resource is absolutely appalling.) That campaign led to the promise of a 30-bed unit in a new 120-bed hospital in the grounds of St Vincent’s. (Here at Children's, we have entire CF floors. And not only that, the new hospital will have only private rooms.)

Replying to complaints, health minister Mary Harney told journalists last week that the state would have to look at the possibility of private sector investment to build the unit.

Her pragmatic response was criticised from the Labour Party and Sinn Féin, in particular, on the funding issue. ‘‘The public health service is not the responsibility of the private sector. If minister Harney insists on peddling this defunct PD ideology at the expense of people’s lives, then she should go,” said Jan O’Sullivan of Labour. Wait, EXCUSE ME? You are the ones who are pushing ideology at the expense of lives! Sheesh! CF patients need private rooms. it's not a vanity thing. It's necessary.

Sinn Féin’s Caoimhghín O’ Caoláin said the minister’s suggestion ‘‘added insult to injury’’, adding that this was ‘‘a recipe for further delay’’, and was the minister’s knee-jerk response to every problem in the health service.

The row about the CF unit in St Vincent’s encapsulates many of the elements of the dilemma facing the government, the Department of Health and the HSE, with the abrupt end to the economic boom.

OK so here's the deal--Children's can expand to meet its needs, like, oh, setting up a lung transplant program-- because the private sector can donate funding. It's now called "Nationwide Children's Hospital" because the insurance giant donated millions of dollars to the hospital. Every year, Children's has a telethon to raise money for the hospital (I was a part of it in 2006). They take donations of money, toys, books, etc. for patients and their families. Local companies donate hundreds of thousands--sometimes even millions of dollars--to the hospital. This enable them to provide top-notch care and save thousands of lives.

In the hallway linking the outpatient care unit and the education building, there are many plaques listing the names of donors, in amounts ranging from $500,000+ to $1,000. Some of these are families, individuals, small businesses, and huge corporations.

Yes, the hospital also gets money from the state, and just received federal stimulus money. But the hospital would, in no way, shape or form, be able to provide the care it does WITHOUT private donors.

No comments: