Sunday, January 14, 2024


 My visit to Toronto General Hospital, the marvellous anchor of the University Health Network, was going well.  I felt almost comfortable. TGH may be a giant, but my two sisters once worked there, my parents died there, as a kid reporter I haunted its emergency, I have had procedures and operations there, three of my specialists work there, and I lived for a couple of years a block away.

Then I looked closely at my specialist and said our talk could have been done by phone. She shrugged and said the ministry demanded the patient be present in person at least once every two years no matter how well the phone calls were working and the absence of problems. So it was convenient for her and the system but not for me. Now I had only waited half an hour past the appointment time in a sprawling hospital flooded with patients. But just getting to TGH is running a gauntlet when you have a city council caring more about cyclists than cars and most major streets are plugged more than the arteries in a 100-year-old man.

The hospital zone might as well be an extension of the zoo. When you are an 87-year-old deaf diabetic in a wheelchair, the streets around TGH are as congested as the compassion in a council plotting a 10% hike in taxes with a woke agenda that would make a Palestinian terrorist blush.

Surely it is in everyone's interest, especially a swamped hospital and a patient whose trip is arduous to avoid any trips that aren't necessary but can be taken care of by phone and computer. It makes you wonder about the thinking in a ministry headed by a minister, Sylvia Jones, who is also the deputy premier. Her hometown of Orangeville is just an urban burp so the idea of forcing old farts to navigate downtown Toronto streets is a nightmare her locals don't have to endure.

Just another day in sand in the cog in a costly health care system that could have been avoided. My expedition from pleasant Etobicoke consumed half a day for me and my stalwart son. The cost does jump considerably when you consider that minor fact that some experts say is really major and is handicapping medicare, the price of hospital parking when you actually finish the marathon.

For just over two hours at TGH, after Mark pushed and shoved me through a construction maze to actually get inside, we paid $25.50 for TGH parking. I have lived and worked and played for many years in the heart of the city, which right now is having a heart attack, and I have never paid that much for a twinkling of time. 

I would hope the premier would get off his chubby ass and suggest to his health minister that in 2024 when the world has come to accept virtual meetings that it is long overdue to have more virtual consultations when our hospitals are overflowing with more patients than excuses.

I have served on hospital boards, even as the chair raising money for new facilities. I have a taste for the problems for many years. I still hate the health bureaucracy for its indifference to simple solutions when a short phone call could have saved a specialist and an old geezer money and a huge slice of a day.

Surely specialists and sensible patients can make a decision on whether swamped hospitals can avoid visits better than health bureaucrats. And Ontario would save a lot of money and irritation.