Choose public or private

Letters

Editor:

This is in response to Keith Maxwell’s letter last week, “At odds with reality,” in which he asserts that our health care system has always had a large private component, and questions why Coast residents are opposed to a privately run seniors facility. He states there already are health services provided by the private sector, citing “when you go see your doctor, fill a prescription, get vision care or visit a lab for tests … these services are provided by for-profit businesses.”

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I cannot speak for the other examples he cites, but can attest that not all laboratory services on the Sunshine Coast are for-profit. There are two locations on the Coast that are collection stations for a private, for-profit, multi-billion-dollar corporation. The sites are open from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday to Friday only, and are staffed by caring, competent and professionally trained lab aides. No actual testing takes place on site. Samples are collected at these locations and driven by courier twice a day to a large production laboratory in Burnaby for testing.

In contrast, the laboratory at Sechelt Hospital is staffed by a mixture of laboratory aides and laboratory technologists, who have advanced training and expertise, and most tests are performed on site in the hospital. The lab is staffed from 6:30 a.m. until midnight, with a technologist on call overnight for emergency testing. Laboratory testing is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This laboratory is funded by the B.C. taxpayers and is not a for-profit enterprise. Hospital in-patients and out-patients are serviced by this laboratory. The hospital laboratory provides meaningful employment to 14 health care professionals, at salary levels that allow us to support our families, own homes on the Coast, and contribute to our communities.

When your doctor requests laboratory testing, please be aware that you have the choice to have your testing done at the facility of your choosing. It can be done at the private lab, where a privately owned corporation receives payment from the Medical Service Plan of B.C., or at the hospital lab, where the same payment from the MSP goes back into our publicly funded hospital programs. Your doctor will receive accurate and timely results whichever system you choose.

I write so that the residents of the Sunshine Coast are aware of how laboratory services on the Coast are provided and paid for by our publicly funded Medical Services Plan, in order to make an informed decision as to which system you choose to support. If you want to protect our publicly funded health system, the choice is clear.

Michele Libling, Wilson Creek

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