Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Off to India!

No - not me. I wish I were going to India.

We have had a patient in our hospital for months and months. He came from India to visit his daughter - with very poor lungs. Yet, his Indian doctor said it would be ok for him to travel. He was here one day when he went into respiratory failure. He has been in the hospital multiple times. He has been intubated multiple times. He has had multiple trachs. His health insurance ran out a long time ago. As a result his daughter has had to re-mortgage her house in order to pay for his medical bills. Yes - this can happen in Canada too. Numerous medical professionals have been donating their time to his cause since his insurance ran out.

The past few weeks have been focused on getting him well enough to travel home.  That day was yesterday. I was preparing him for travel - which mostly just involved some last minute suction and sending emergency trach supplies with the transport team - when the Dr came in to say that she wasn't sure that he could travel. I couldn't believe it, but eventually he was cleared and when I came back from lunch he was gone.

The transport team came from Taiwan. I can't even imagine how they found a transport team in Taiwan to come to Canada, collect this incontinent man with a trach and travel first to Frankfurt and then on to India. Seriously. I can't imagine the cost of four first class seats the entire way.

This is the second time I have seen this already in my time in the hospital. Elderly family member travels overseas, and either insurance runs out or doesn't at all cover a previously existing medical condition. Both times this involved a patient with COPD and greatly decreased lung function. Both times resulted in financial destruction for the families involved.

Seriously - think twice before having your elderly family member travel overseas to see you. Maybe you should go visit them instead.

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