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A Case for Private Health Care?

Now I’m sure that there are many people who are cringing about the title of this blog and likely even getting angry right off the bat. Now before anyone’s blood pressure start’s rising, let me state that this is based on my and a few other’s personal experiences.

Shortly after I sustained my back injury at the end of June 2011, I was going through regular physiotherapy treatments at a private Physiotherapy clinic. I was going regularly three times a week. The physiotherapy was very hands on with the physiotherapist working very hard to try and get my back loosened up. My back was so rigid that I could not bend forward more than about 5 to 10 degrees. As indicated by the Worker’s Compensation Board (WCB) doctor (who was an Orthopedic Specialist), I needed mobilizations along the “entire spine”.

Even when the WCB case manager rejected two thirds of the diagnosis as well as denying me more than two thirds of the treatment recommendations that were made by their own specialist, I paid for double length appointments out of my own pocket to get my entire spine treated. Around the end of December 2011 I was finally regaining much of the mobility in my back. Extension requests were submitted for more Physiotherapy and Registered Massage Therapy as we were seeing measurable, documented progress, which was rejected by the WCB case manager and WCB arbitrarily closed my file.

I had both the Physiotherapist and Registered Massage Therapist (RMT) do physical assessments and for each to write up a report. In January 2012, I went to a publicly funded Physiotherapy clinic with a doctor’s referral because I was now broke and could no longer afford private treatments. The Physiotherapist there was given a copy of the report from the WCB Specialist, as well as the reports from the previous Physiotherapist and RMT. In short these three very detailed reports indicated what was wrong, what needed to be done, what had been done and what still needed to be done.

This publicly funded Physiotherapist essentially shelved these reports and did his own thing which was not a heck of a lot. Many of my scheduled appointments at that clinic I never even saw him. The appointments usually consisted of me doing some exercises in the gym area and then having one of the assistants use hot packs on my neck and back. The few days that I did see him, he physically worked on my neck with only about one day working on my upper back.

During the second round of appointments, the only thing that was assigned to me was to do various exercises in the gym area and to then go home. I never saw the physiotherapist at all, yet the clinic was getting paid for me being at those appointments.

During both rounds of appointments I was periodically getting grief from my former employer’s insurance provider. I kept telling them that I was getting very little treatments and informed them what had transpired since going to this publicly funded clinic. After a few written complaints to the insurance provider, they finally contacted this Physiotherapist.

This Physiotherapist was not impressed at all with regards to being questioned by the insurance company. He quickly scheduled a follow up assessment with me and discharged me from his clinic. His report indicated that there were still issues with my back, but never indicated any kind of follow up.

After describing my experience at this publicly funded clinic with a few others, I was hearing similar stories. One professional described this type of clinic as a glorified social club.

I mentioned to many people that this publicly funded Physiotherapy clinic needs to not only be investigated, but permanently shut down, if they are not providing the care that they are paid to deliver. If they are receiving public funds for the operation of this clinic, they must be held accountable for those funds. The same holds true for all other publicly funded health care clinics and institutions.

Had this publicly funded physiotherapist actually did his job and picked up where the other treatment providers left off, there’s a strong chance that I would’ve been able to return to my job by the spring of 2012. In fact during the one appointment that he actually physically worked on my upper back, he even commented how rigid my upper back was. In addition he indicated about doing the same mobilizations that were done before at the private clinic, but never did them. Ironically, these mobilizations were what was originally recommended by WCB’s Orthopedic Specialist and in her report. This was the same report that was initially given to this Physiotherapist and likely not even read.

So why the huge difference? When discussing this experience with several others, a common theme arose. A private clinic is more focused on results. If they don’t provide results, they eventually get a bad reputation and will eventually start losing business. Whereas the publicly funded clinic may have the “I could care less” mentality because they are getting funds regardless of what they do, or don’t do.

What do you think is the difference between a private, versus a publicly funded clinic?

Until next time, stay safe, healthy and strong.

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