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LETTER: Doctor shortage taking a toll on British Columbians’ health

If you live in British Columbia, you could be among the one million people without a doctor, so my story may sound familiar.

We are inundated with stories of ERs or clinics closing, 911 operators and paramedics understaffed, and burnt-out nurses and doctors. Hospitals are jammed full of people waiting 10-plus hours just to see a doctor. Some people say it’s the COVID pandemic that broke the system. I say it has been broken for years.

A close family member’s doctor retired. The stress and anxiety set in. Jane has several critical health issues and needs monitoring. Going to the ER was the last resort. Jane’s symptoms got worse. After waiting an excruciatingly long time in the ER, tests were run, and her diagnosis was in. It was life-changing, possibly life-ending. She needed surgery. But after getting COVID from the hospital (despite being vaccinated), everything was put on hold for six weeks while her lungs healed.

Politicians waxing poetically on TV mean nothing to people who need medical care today. Nurses, doctors, and other medical staff need relief now. We can protest, or create online petitions, but the only people who have the power to do something are our elected officials. In my opinion, the state of our health-care system is the new pandemic and should be treated like such with daily briefings, concrete action items outlined, and milestones set and reported on.

The struggle for health care right now is real. The stress and anxiety of not getting help in time are high. People on both sides of medical care are burnt out. If Jane had been on her own this could just as well be her obituary.

I call on B.C.’s premier, the minister of health, and all the politicians who have been elected by British Columbians to do something concrete, now. People are suffering. We need you to act. Be the leaders we elected and resolve the issues in our health-care system right now. We know you can do it.

Jennifer Dowd