FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE

Wednesday

Identical Quadruplets!

You have probably heard by now that a Canadian woman, Karen Jepp, gave birth to identical quadruplets! It’s a very rare event. According to Canadian doctors, the chances of having naturally-conceived identical quadruplets are about 1-in-13 million! So, it’s a big story for the media.

Oddly enough, there is one facet to this story that a lot of American media outlets are ignoring. You see, Karen Jepp had to be transferred to a hospital in Montana for the delivery. Hospitals in Calgary were ill-equipped to handle her pregnancy.

The Calgary Herald reported:


Lange said local physicians had been closely monitoring Jepp's pregnancy and were anticipating her newborns would require care at Foothills' neonatal intensive care unit.

But when Jepp began experiencing labour symptoms last Friday, the unit at Foothills was over capacity with several unexpected pre-term births.

There was no room at any other Canadian neonatal intensive care unit, forcing CHR officials to look south of the border.

Jepp was transported to Benefis hospital in Great Falls last Friday -- making her the fifth Alberta woman to be transferred south of the border this year because of neonatal shortages in Calgary.

The Calgary hospitals did not have enough room to provide care for Karen Jepp. Because the Canadian neonatal units were ill-equipped, it became necessary for Karen to come to the United States to seek the care she so desperately needed.

But, why were they ill-equipped? According to the article, they were not able to adjust to the sudden increase in “unexpected pre-term births.” Keep in mind, though, that this is the fifth time this year that something like this has happened! It’s not exactly an isolated incident. So, why have they not been able to correct the problem? Why are they still unable to provide the necessary care?

According to another article from the Calgary Herald:


Calgary Health Region officials agree they don't have enough neonatal intensive care beds to serve the city's growing population, saying they have had difficulty recruiting and training enough staff for the unit.

So, they are having trouble recruiting enough staff for the facilities. I wonder why. Could it be that staff shortages are an inherent characteristic of Government-run health care?

The CanWest News Service had this to say:

Calgary Health Region, the organization that is footing the bill, estimates the total cost will be about $215,000 — compared to just $61,400 if Jepp had remained at a local hospital.

“Cost wasn’t the consideration at all,” said Toni MacDonald, the health region’s director for child health.

The consideration for moving mom was her safety and the infants’ safety and having them delivered in a space and location where we were confident there would be full and adequate care.”

But news of the price tag for sending Jepp to Montana led government critics to question the shortage of neonatal beds in Calgary and Edmonton. Alberta Liberals blamed the problem on health-care cutbacks in the 1990s that have led to a space crunch in all of Calgary’s hospitals.

“I don’t know what they saved back then, but we’re paying now,” said Laurie Blakeman, health-care critic for the party.“We still don’t have the capacity we need in Calgary.”


According to this article, the problem may not lie with a staffing shortage. Laurie Blakeman attributes the problem to funding cut-backs. Interesting.

But, that’s what you would expect to happen when there is a perception of "free" health-care. Demand rises, but prices don’t. Instead, the Government, which controls the system, looks for ways to control costs. Funding cut-backs are a result of cost control.

I don’t really find it odd that media outlets aren’t covering this aspect of the story. It sheds a very bad light on the idea of Government-run health care.

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