Spotlight on Health

Patient inspires doctor to make a difference for all

By Dr. Darren Cargill

As a doctor, I see pain and suffering every day and it is my job to do what I can to help alleviate that pain.

For me, that feeling extends beyond the bedside and so when I saw the pain and suffering of Dan Duma I did what I could to help.

The long-time Ontario resident had been living and working in Fort McMurray, Alberta when he was diagnosed with cancer. Forced from his home by the unprecedented wild fires in May, Dan was evacuated to Edmonton where he was then given the unfortunate news that his cancer was terminal. Like the majority of Canadians who receive this type of diagnosis, he decided that he wanted be with his family. So he returned to Windsor, where he had previously lived, and where his two grown daughters live to receive palliative and end-of-life care.

Once here, his family learned how difficult it would be to fulfill his wish. Our laws allowed for “medically necessary” treatment, but not for home care. At a time when they should have been focused on being there for their father and husband, Dan’s family was dealing with frustration and bureaucracy.

I found out about Dan’s situation and did what I could to help. Our community program provided the best care we could without access to any home care resources, but it is fair to say Dan only received the best possible care our system could provide when he was admitted to our residential hospice in Leamington, just days before his death.

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Currently, people who move to Ontario – whether from another province or abroad – are required to wait three months for OHIP coverage. Those previously insured in other provinces are able to receive “medically necessary” care in Ontario that is paid for by the province they just left – but not home care.

As a physician wanting to do what was best for my patient and his family I was frustrated. Dan was not the first patient I had treated who was not eligible because of a recent move – and I knew he would not be my last.

But instead of letting the system tie my hands, I saw an issue in our system that I thought could be changed to improve patient care.

I approached my local MPP, Lisa Gretzky (NDP-Windsor West). Together, we worked on a private member’s bill to amend the Home Care and Community Services Act to remove the three-month OHIP waiting period for Canadians moving to Ontario from another province.

There are many deficiencies in our system when it comes to end of life care, but this is one that be easily fixed. Dan’s Law was introduced last month and went through second reading on Nov. 17, as it now heads to committee I urge all Ontarians to make their voices heard and tell their MPP they support this important piece of legislation.

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This article originally appeared in our monthly e-newsletter, Spotlight on Health.
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Posted on November 15, 2016 in newsletter

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