In 2003, when Canada was grappling with the universal health care debate and struggling with the wait time challenges, I was operating a wellness centre specializing in sports medicine and chronic pain. My clientele ranged from competitive athletes to grandmothers, all coping with severe pain. It was here that I first experienced patients’ struggles with the Canadian medical systems’ long waitlists for care. Witnessing patients forced to wait in pain, while watching their suffering impact their families, grieved me deeply.
Each patient had a team behind them composed of chiropractors, physiotherapists, family members and frustrated family doctors, all knowing what needed to be done yet unable to pull the necessary pieces together. More team members were needed. But we had to think outside of the box – or, it appeared in these cases, even outside of the country.
World class health care, available immediately, dwelt just across the border in the United States. Yet when I asked my clients if they would go to the U.S. for care, their answers made it clear to me that my Canadian patients lacked more than just good health.
Roadmap for change
They lacked any kind of roadmap for doing things differently. Without any kind of hands-on guide, most were too afraid to set out on what amounted to a “cross-your-fingers” mission. Their caregivers recognized the value of an immediate diagnostic procedure or an expert consultation, but were reluctant to seek support in the U.S. when they lacked intimate knowledge of the accreditation or caliber of care offered at out-of- country institutions.
I decided that my patients needed a trusted resource that could guide them to the best possible healthcare institutions. After spending almost two years researching U.S. healthcare providers and technology, developing partnerships with the leading accredited U.S. medical facilities, a roadmap for immediate access to care, preferred pricing and cutting edge technology were secured. Out of this solid foundation, a sense of relief has prevailed. There are now choices for ending, or at least shortening, patients’ suffering.
Let me share the remarkable journey of one patient. At 48 years of age, Gerry was a hockey coach, a personal trainer and in the final training stages for a triathalon. While doing upright rows, one day, Gerry felt a deep pain in his back followed by a burning that radiated down the outside of his leg. Three months later the only thing that changed in Gerry’s world was that the pain increased. Despite trips to his doctors, he had yet to receive any medical intervention.
His chiropractor heard of our services and contacted us. Within 48 hours Gerry had an MRI and was back at his doctor’s office, disk in hand, and interpretations in his file.. A dedicated treatment regime began and Gerry returned to his active life. This included an impressive finish in his triathalon.
Since Gerry’s trip to the United States, we have helped many of his clients and fellow athletes. Gerry actually helps initiate the process, in some cases, by getting them to his chiropractor’s office. The DC calls us when the patient needs specialized care or diagnostic scans, knowing that within the same week, another new treatment plan will be successfully launched.
Interdisciplinary and cross-jurisdiction collaboration
Our partnerships with accredited U.S. health care providers are designed upon a patient centric approach in which hands-on professional relationships between U.S. and Canadian physicians are a vital component to ensure superior patient care. It is very powerful for the patient to have the unified efforts of both sides of the border working together, sharing expertise and developing complementary protocols. Canadian practitioners act as the lightening bolt by expanding their care services internationally. The advances technology and immediate access become language that they can safely promise and deliver within their own practices. It is a continuum of patient care.
As part of the patient centred teamwork approach, my group regularly hosts ‘meet and greet’, as well as educational seminars. It is at these events that practitioners from both sides of the border gather to collaborate. The end result is impeccable. Patient satisfaction scores soar as do the Canadian practitioners’ practices. They become the beacon of hope that healthy life does not have to come only after time served on a frigid waiting lists.
In 2010, it is time to deliver health care from an active solution focused approach. Our international borders present opportunities for efficient collaboration and health care excellence. A herniated disk, or a knee replacement does not care about postal codes – it only protests if it remains untreated.
This is what medical travel is all about – working together to make people better by providing the care they need when they need it.
Kelly Meloche was a Tactical Communications Instructor for the Province of Ontario, where she applied her training in neurolinguistic psychology to teach police officers to deal with some of the most volatile situations imaginable. Kelly then trained as a Sports Performance and Chronic Pain Specialist prior to starting International Healthcare Providers, Inc., a service that stands as a resource of choice for Canadians needing better options for their health care. For more information about International Healthcare Providers, Inc., and how chiropractors can access their services, please visit
www.ihcproviders.com or call 1-519-736-0189.
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