And so it Begins! July 17th 2012

Hi Meb, Angela and all

This evening’s Scarborough volunteer clinic for uninsured refugees and immigrants was like no other we have experienced in our 13 years of operation. Refugees with suddenly cancelled IFH cards flooded our waiting room an hour before the clinic opened at 5 pm. We were still in the process of seeing the last patients of our regular day.

The scene was more like chaos and crowd control, than the evening medical walk in clinics for the uninsured we have grown used to. It reminded me of a Code Orange.

It was all very overwhelming and tragic. For a while I lost site of the fact that we were actually providing healthcare, in Canada. Patients with diabetes, hypertension, chest pain, pregnancy, headache, pyelonephritis, fever all crowded in. Suddenly, on Canada Day 2012, their IFH cards were cancelled and revoked. They arrived from their friends house, shelters, motels, by TTC.

One young 24 year old women in Canada 4 years, 35 weeks pregnant, a primip, arrived crying, with severe abdominal pain. She had contacted her OB a week earlier seeking care with the pain. She was informed by the office that her IFH had been cancelled. She was unaware. The expiry date on her IFH document said November 22nd 2012. She was informed that to see her OB she would now have to pay $130 per visit. And then there was the delivery and hospital costs. She stayed at home with her pain, unable to pay the $130. She then came to our clinic tonight. She is sponsored by her Canadian husband.

Another patient, a 61 year old gentleman in a Scarborough refugee shelter arrived because his heart medications had run out days earlier ,and his doctor providing care under IFH was now charging for renewals and care. He could not afford to see the doctor. He had heart failure and atrial fib. He was taking warfarin, and by mistake Plavix. He had run out of all his meds – lasix, cavedilol, amiodarone, coversyl….. He was on 12 meds. He spoke no English and arrived alone, by Public Transit. He was sweating, afraid. He wore a suit for the visit. He had loosened his neck tie because he was perspiring so much but left his suit jacket on until I came in the room.

I am home now, and I still feel ashamed of what Canada is doing. We spent much of the evening apologizing for our country’s regressive, uncaring, humiliating, and harmful behaviour. What I saw tonight, I never dreamed I would see in my country. How is it that a Canadian Government can abandon a pregnant women and her 35 week pregnancy, with pain, to fend for herself? How can that mother, her pregnancy, that infant be so callously cut loose at 35 weeks? How ironic that Mr Kenney is a professed pro life advocate – just lives that serve his policies at the time, I suppose?

I am very, very, angry this evening. I am stunned. Our volunteer nursing and reception team were outstanding! We are not sure what the next clinic will bring. We may need to open another evening, but we have no idea how. Perhaps sharing moments and stories like this with our fellow providers will help? This madness must be stopped.


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