Doctor dilemma meeting tonight

There was a very real shortage of doctors in this town, with only two or three available, before the Second World War—and very little to pay for them.
Then along came medical insurance, with the doctors being paid by the government. No longer were Drs. O’Donnell, Boyle, and the others, including Dr. Young in Emo, forced to accept firewood and bags of potatoes from patients lacking money.
But today, there is a long lineup of people awaiting doctor appointments. This coincides with the fact we do not receive doctor bills—no matter how expensive or frequent our medical treatments.
But despite the fact that doctor numbers have at least tripled here, lo and behold there exists a doctor shortage.
Some medical cases have to wait months for a doctor’s attention because doctors seem more and more in demand—and sometimes by people who would never think of contacting a physician when they had to pay for that satisfaction themselves!
While we will always be grateful for socialized medicine and health insurance, under today’s conditions there is always bound to be long waiting lists. In fact, name anything else that comes practically free and expect that service or product soon to become scarce also.
The answers to this puzzle may be impossible to solve in our lifetime, but this government insurance has both good and bad sides.
Concerning auto insurance, for instance, there would be more cars on the road if that also wewre free, or if there came a generous rebate on gasoline costs. Dollar and cents considerations usually are uppermost in whatever you buy, and why should medical services stand apart from this rule?
But rather than waiting a month or more for a doctor’s appointment from the clinic, the best solution is what I did: Go directly to the hospital! I was given a bed and an ambulance ride over the bridge to the International Falls hospital for a “CAT scan” the next day.
How’s that for prompt service!
So, I’m thinking back now on my own early visits to doctors here. We had Dr. McKenzie’s hospital across from the present papermill office, where a young Dr. Gunn removed my tonsils and adenoids to prevent regular colds in my boyhood.
Dr. McKenzie led our Bull Moose Battalion into the First World War.
And Dr. Boyle, located behind CIBC during my high school days, lanced a painful felon on my left forefinger. And oh yes, Dr. Hartry, next to the high school, sent his laundry with me to my mother.
As well as Dr. O’Donnell, whose own busy hospital was on Second Street, these were our only physicians for years. And Dr. Boyle found time to become our hockey team doctor and president of the Allan Cup-champion Fort Frances Canadians.
These three or four doctors always seemed to have time for us—even without previous appointments.
Then along came social medicine, which gives us treatment without charge. Now, one peculiar human ailment is that nobody can resist that kind of bargain!
So, maybe our doctors are, indeed, too few today and probably wondering how our earlier doctors managed, especially with this slow-growing town and area still holding nearly the same population.
• • •
My granddaughter, Alexis Vandetti, arrived home last week from Ottawa General Hospital, where she is creating a career as a graduate nurse.
• • •
Find an idle moment in some corner of your home community, say while you wait for a ride, and be ready to shake hands with old friends who stroll past. You will find it rewarding.
First off, I met Eivend and Connie Haugo and begin dusting off memories with them. Haugo is an east-ender who grew up next to my mother’s friend, Winnie Mathers, who, as did many of us, raised meat and vegetables in her backyard while her large family would come home in turns for Sunday dinners.
My mother would be asked to send me over to bring in a chicken for dinner.
Eivend would come along to admire my performance and that’s about all I would see of him.
Since the column on my dad here recently, Eivend remembered working with dad for Paul Laurence Construction. When timekeeper Mal Steel, also Robert Moore principal, would come along during lunch hour, Eivend said dad would remind Mal, his good friend incidentally, that Paul owed him a dollar more for working during lunch hour.
Eivend’s wife was the younger daughter of storekeeper George Ross, another friend of my father. And I reminded Connie I knew her in kindergarten.
Then Iza Gillon came along with her grandson and this began a different train of thought because she is a sister of my cousin’s wife, Penny McFarland, and came here from Edinburgh because Penny was a home-sick war bride.
Now Iza is surrounded by her own family since Jimmy passed on. Claude McFarland has been bothered by back troubles, she reported, and I see him only occasionally although we grew up almost like brothers, both being the only children of sisters.
Such conversations sometimes can be the best times in your week. So cheer up! After all, we keep on missing those hurricanes and earthquakes!
• • •
Albert Carrier may have seen the last bear loose in Fort Frances when a young cub visited his front verandah a week ago. Some 80 bears have been reported in town during the past month or so—an oddity unknown in previous years.
Hopefully, the first flurries last Wednesday morning may have reminded them it’s time to begin their long sleep. You’d have to say they behaved themselves very well as they moved among us!
• • •
No, the Jack Allan currently volunteering to deliver Meals on Wheels is not the much older Jack Allan mentioned in this column and, in fact, had never heard of the latter although both have been papermill workers.
The owner of the giant dog was a mill guard during the Second World War.
• • •
Joe Bliss, visiting here this week, explained his Mine Centre village I knew was destroyed after the CN stopped bringing passengers.
His father, well-remembered Ed Bliss, came from London, England and combined his store with a post office while raising five sons and two daughters, most of whom I attended school with.
Ed also put a handsome cabin, Basswood Lodge, at the end of the road at Bad Vermilion Lake, but it broke apart when Joe tried to move it. Joe now has lived beside the lake for years but he must miss the old village. It held another store, a small hotel, boarding house, about a score of homes, and our school when I knew it before the Second World War.
Ed also learned the Ojibway language to deal with his native customers.

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