Paillard: Doctors have upper hand

Sylvie Paillard / Kamloops Daily News
November 28, 2012 01:00 AM

"In every house where I come I will enter only for the good of my patients, keeping myself far from all intentional ill-doing..."

- Hippocrates

When I read that a Kamloops doctors' survey was sent to government officials stating that medical professionals would leave town if the Ajax mine went through, I couldn't help thinking: "What gall."

But a moment later I recanted that thought and prayed for forgiveness from Saint Luke, the patron saint of doctors, adding my familiar mantra: "Please let me find a GP accepting patients!"

Forgive me doctors. I'm among the 15,000 people in Kamloops who doesn't have a family physician. And it seems my chances of reprieve are slim after hearing a local friend tell me he got on his mother's doctor's wait list after his own GP retired . . . four years ago.

As it stands, if I need medical attention, I have to schlep out to a clinic and wait in line half the day.

I'll be greeted (if that term applies) by a cranky clinic staffer who'll get even crankier if I stumble while answering her questions and glare if I ask some of my own.

But you know what? I don't blame her. She's on the front lines of today's ugly, overburdened health care system.

Also, I don't dare talk back. In fact, I find myself doing anything to avoid displeasing her. Is this a mild form of Stockholm syndrome?

I've been cowered into submission and that's not an easy feat - ask my spouse.

All of this leads me to ponder: if a clinic clerk can do this to me, imagine the power doctors have - on all of us.

And there's the rub. Doctors have people's lives in their hands and it seems they're willing to remind us of that.

They just couldn't handle having as much influence over this decision as the rest of us plebes, is that it?

Doctors have every right to live where they want. But really? Fully one-third of Kamloops doctors would leave town if Ajax passed? Is it possible this survey result was borne out of their desired outcome for this mine proposal rather than what will truly happen?

Is it right for them to strong-arm policy decisions for such seemingly self-serving reasons?

Obviously people don't want to live next door to a loud, dusty industry that destroys their peace of mind and their health. Not even Ajax supporters would want that.

In fact they probably support it in part because they believe KGHM's assurances that the project won't be nightmarishly disruptive. But if that is, in fact, what we're headed for, we should know.

Doctors have always had a strong influence on societies, and it's been traditionally because of their expertise in human health. That medical expertise should benefit us all. So how about a medical study on the mine's potential impact on the health of the population?

(It could be done with or without mining proponent KGHM's projected data because God knows how long that'll take.)

This newmanner of wielding influence carries a whiff of slippery slope to it. I wonder what their next deal-breaker issue will be?

I was stuck without a parking spot on my own residential street all day Saturday because of the Santa Claus parade. So I'm crossing my fingers for downtown parking.

Twitter: @mildobserver

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