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Canadian Medicare from an American perspective

from the May 2, 2011 issue of Connect

Canadian Medicare from an American perspective

Canada is getting a lot of acclaim from a group of physicians south of the border for something many Canadians hold dear – our health-care system.

Eight doctors from the United States visited Women’s College Hospital on Tuesday, April 12 to learn a little bit about the history, practice and future of Canadian Medicare. Hosted by Canadian Doctors for Medicare (CDM) and led by Women’s College Hospital family practice physician Dr. Danielle Martin, chair of CDM, the event was a one-day conference split between Women’s College Hospital, Mount Sinai Hospital and St. Michael’s Hospital.

The visiting doctors were members of U.S.-based Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) – an organization made up of 18,000 doctors who are diligently advocating for a single-payer health-care system in the U.S.

“This visit offered an important opportunity to build bridges between Canadian and American doctors, and to talk about some of the challenges we face in the very different health-care systems we work in,” Dr. Martin said.

The day began with a morning session at Women’s College featuring presentations from Dr. Martin and Heather McPherson, vice-president, patient care and ambulatory innovation. The session focused on a brief history and outline of Canadian Medicare, as well as a system-level perspective on how health care functions in the province of Ontario. Guests were eager to ask questions and participate in discussions on public versus private care, wait times in Canada and the future of Canadian health care.

Also discussed was the role Women’s College plays in improving our system. By focusing on ambulatory care, chronic disease management and illness prevention, Women’s College is targeting key areas that improve health care for all Canadians by making Medicare more sustainable in the long term.

“No system is perfect, but our American colleagues were amazed by the quality of care we provide at Women’s College Hospital, our innovative programs, and the fact that finances are not a barrier to accessing those services,” added Dr. Martin.

The visiting doctors had the opportunity to tour a number of clinics at Women’s College including the Virtual Ward, Endocrinology and the Family Health team.

The U.S. physicians also had a chance to pair off with Canadian physicians specializing in their own respective fields, allowing for the unique opportunity to see a comparable example of what their Canadian counterparts are doing on this side of the border.

Dr. Elizabeth Rosenthal, a visiting physician and board member of the New York metro chapter of PNHP, had plenty of praise for Medicare and for her hosts at Women’s College.

“You should be very proud of your health-care system and of Women’s College Hospital. I look forward to another visit to your city.”

Eight doctors from the United States visited Women’s College Hospital

(from back row): Dr. Tina Borschel (WCH), Dr. Sam Rosenthal (PNHP), Dr. Mary O’Brien (PNHP), Heather McPherson (WCH), Dr. Irfan Dhalla (St. Mike’s) , Dr. Sheila Laredo (WCH), Effie Vlachoyannacos (CDM), Dr. Len Rodberg (PNHP), Carolyn Doyle (CDM), Dr. Carol Schneebaum (PNHP), Dr. Michael Gordon (Baycrest), Dr. Danielle Martin (WCH), Sarah Dimmock (WCH), Dr. Betsy Rosenthal (PNHP), Laurie Wen (PNHP), Sean Meagher (CDM)


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