Heart Attacks and Health Systems

May 29, 2007

Many apologies for the lack of posts lately.  On Saturday my father had a heart attack and I have spent the last few days in a flurry of hospital visits and looking after family.  I have sat down at the computer a couple of times but mostly just to read, my mind going blank at the thought of posting something.

I did however strike some inspiration at a post about health systems on Justice and Compassion.  Given my very recent experience I thought it appropriate to comment, and with my current lack of ideas I thought I’d post that comment here…

We theoretically have a socialised system of medicine here in New Zealand- we have huge problems but I think it is a whole heap better than what you have in the US.

As a Primary Health Nurse in a busy city health centre we spend a lot of time working to get funding from various government agencies and even more battling the hospital system and other health providers for specialised treatment for our patients. My own husband suffers from frequent, severe headaches (the result of a head injury) and has been waiting for months to get an appointment with a neurologist. He was denied an MRI recently because the request came from his GP (family physician) rather than a specialist. Because government agencies are involved in the allocation of scarce resources, and demand is fast outstripping supply, sub-optimal care and lengthy waiting lists are unfortunately a reality we have to live with.

That said, my faith in the system was somewhat restored this weekend. Yesterday my father had severe chest pain while working on his car at home. We called an ambulance (free) which took him to the Emergency Dept at the public hospital (free) where he was assessed and eventually admitted to the Cardiac Care Unit (free). The biggest problem (other than the chest pain obviously) was that the lab workers are all on strike this weekend! However the staff coped admirably, have done as much as they can and I am confident that he is getting the best care available here. It is good to know that in an emergency, we don’t have to worry about insurance or how we are going to pay. For this reason I remain a strong advocate of the public health system and socialised medicine in general. Although it can be difficult to get the care needed at times, at least prioritisation is generally done on the basis of need rather than ability to pay.

The good news is thatmy fathers heart attack was not severe, he had an angioplasty and 2 stents put in (all free of course!) and is probably going home tomorrow.

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One Response to “Heart Attacks and Health Systems”


  1. […] have posted on this subject before, and my opinion has not changed. Having have seen both ends of the system, as a nurse and as […]


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