Right in the centre - Needs will produce a solution


By Ken Waddell

The Neepawa Banner

The province is getting some push back for allowing home medical visits by a nurse practitioner company. The critics of such an idea had better get ready to do battle, as the onslaught is coming. At least two home care provider companies have approached this newspaper about their intention to provide in-home care for people who need it. And it will be outside the government operated home care services.

To any observer of our situation in Manitoba, it has become very obvious that we have a lot more people in need of care than there are readily available services to provide that care. Health care budgets are stretched and yet the needs are not all being met. The myth that all needs can be met by way of taxpayer expense is fading. The supporters of that myth have always been blind to the fact that need and necessity will find a solution. When the need, or expectation, exceeds the capacity to fill the need, people go looking for a solution. If they have to go outside the very restrictive, rules-bound government solutions they will do so. 

People in need of care, and their families, are not a passive lot. Neither are they without imagination and they will find a solution they can afford. If it means employing a nursing service to make home visits, it will happen. And so it should.

To restrict home care to a unionized, publicly funded option makes no sense at all. Further to that, the restrictions placed on what, how and when a home care worker can fill a person’s needs ranges between laughable and cruel.

For nearly two decades, the main motivation behind health care in Manitoba, has been to restrict innovation. Lead by the NDP and aided by a smothering public service union movement, innovation in health care in Manitoba has slowed to a snail’s pace. What has not slowed is the demand for innovation and care. There has been huge expansion in private care, private treatment and non-traditional remedies to meet the needs. We have an expanding elderly population and some have a bit of money, some have lots and they are willing to spend it on solutions of their own desire. Innovation and private funded, private sourced solutions don’t fit into the NDP mindset. Too bad, innovation has been ignored for so long and the pent-up need, desire and money that feeds innovation is about to burst out with a vengeance.

Communities are building medical clinics, private ones are popping up as well. People are finding their own solutions and abandoning the publicly funded model to some extent. It is a trend that the government should encourage and definitely not stand in the way. 

A quick review of history is in order. In 1968 or so, Neepawa built Eastview Lodge. It was expanded to 120 beds. A new replacement home was announced in 1999 at a projected cost of $14 million. There was a delay of several years and a reduced 100 bed home was built. We were assured it would be plenty big enough. That was nonsense and we all knew it, but the government held the purse strings, called the shots and so 100 beds is what we got for $30 million. A quick math equation shows that the government spent $300,000 per bed. At that time, a contractor could have but a two bedroom home for $200,000 each. When government gets involved, the costs get way out of hand. Now the cost per day to the RHA to have a person in a care home is such that private smaller care homes may well be able to provide the needed service at much less cost. I say, let the private sector go for it. The need is still there and may be expanding. Light care, heavy care, in-home care, assisted living, the whole range of care is needed and government can’t afford to do it without a huge increase in taxes.

Hopefully we have learned our lesson and our new government will allow need, desire, money and good management come together to fill a gaping void.