Sunday, March 29, 2009

courtesy of

I am following up on an article in the Globe and Mail that says that there is no medevac pickup in Quebec, because I am worried about how it might affect tourism at Mont Tremblant in the coming years. Mont Tremblant is probably the largest of the ski areas east of the Rockies in Canada. It's little wonder that Natasha Richardson chose to go there. It attracts serious skiers, and she probably wanted the best instructors.

Unfortunately, it would appear that Quebec has to raise its standards as far as air ambulances are concerned.

“It’s impossible for me to comment specifically about her case, but what I could say is ... driving to Mont Tremblant from the city (Montreal) is a 2½-hour trip, and the closest trauma center is in the city. Our system isn’t set up for traumas and doesn’t match what’s available in other Canadian cities, let alone in the States,” said Tarek Razek, director of trauma services for the McGill University Health Centre, which represents six of Montreal’s hospitals.

Being driven by ambulance to two separate hospitals rather than airlifted by helicopter directly to a trauma center could have cost Richardson crucial moments, he said.

ABC News says that she refused treatment, but perhaps she should have been told, yes, told that she needed the treatment. She probably wasn't aware that this sort of injury is a possibility, as it takes high profile cases to make them into stories.

I think this story has legs, because Quebec does not have a medevac emergency pickup, as all the other Canadian provinces do. But perhaps trauma care itself should be looked at as a whole in the province. Sadly, it often takes a tragedy to effect change.

Healthcare should be patient-based, not "greed-based". Any tool that it takes to make someone well should ideally be available. In Natasha Richardson's case, had an MRI been available to check her brain at the hospital, or had she been operated on sooner, she might have lived. That would have been a lifesaver, so any hospital near a ski slope clearly needs a focused trauma center. Even a mini-trauma center would have helped her.

How many deaths will it take to improve healthcare in Quebec?

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