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CN Premier Says: ‘My heart, My choice’

From The Canadian Press:

‘My heart, my choice,’ Williams says, defending decision for U.S. heart surgery

By Tara Brautigam (CP)

February 23, 2010

An unapologetic Danny Williams says he was aware his trip to the United States for heart surgery earlier this month would spark outcry, but he concluded his personal health trumped any public fallout over the controversial decision.

In an interview with The Canadian Press, Williams said he went to Miami to have a "minimally invasive" surgery for an ailment first detected nearly a year ago, based on the advice of his doctors.

"This was my heart, my choice and my health," Williams said late Monday from his condominium in Sarasota, Fla.

"I did not sign away my right to get the best possible health care for myself when I entered politics."

The 60-year-old Williams said doctors detected a heart murmur last spring and told him that one of his heart valves wasn’t closing properly, creating a leakage.

He said he was told at the time that the problem was "moderate" and that he should come back for a checkup in six months.

Eight months later, in December, his doctors told him the problem had become severe and urged him to get his valve repaired immediately or risk heart failure, he said.

His doctors in Canada presented him with two options – a full or partial sternotomy, both of which would’ve required breaking bones, he said.

He said he spoke with and provided his medical information to a leading cardiac surgeon in New Jersey who is also from Newfoundland and Labrador. He advised him to seek treatment at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami.

That’s where he was treated by Dr. Joseph Lamelas, a cardiac surgeon who has performed more than 8,000 open-heart surgeries.

Williams said Lamelas made an incision under his arm that didn’t require any bone breakage.

"I wanted to get in, get out fast, get back to work in a short period of time," the premier said.

Williams said he didn’t announce his departure south of the border because he didn’t want to create "a media gong show," but added that criticism would’ve followed him had he chose to have surgery in Canada.

"I would’ve been criticized if I had stayed in Canada and had been perceived as jumping a line or a wait list. … I accept that. That’s public life," he said.

"(But) this is not a unique phenomenon to me. This is something that happens with lots of families throughout this country, so I make no apologies for that."

Williams said his decision to go to the U.S. did not reflect any lack of faith in his own province’s health care system.

"I have the utmost confidence in our own health care system in Newfoundland and Labrador, but we are just over half a million people," he said.

"We do whatever we can to provide the best possible health care that we can in Newfoundland and Labrador. The Canadian health care system has a great reputation, but this is a very specialized piece of surgery that had to be done and I went to somebody who’s doing this three or four times a day, five, six days a week."

He quipped that he had "a heart of a 40-year-old, so that gives me 20 years new life," and said he intends to run in the next provincial election in 2011.

"I’m probably going to be around for a long time, hopefully, if God willing," he said.

"God forbid for the Canadian public I won’t be around longer than ever."

Williams also said he paid for the treatment, but added he would seek any refunds he would be eligible for in Canada.

"If I’m entitled to any reimbursement from any Canadian health care system or any provincial health care system, then obviously I will apply for that as anybody else would," he said.

"But I wrote out the cheque myself and paid for it myself and to this point, I haven’t even looked into the possibility of any reimbursement. I don’t know what I’m entitled to, if anything, and if it’s nothing, then so be it."

He is expected back at work in early March.

This is from a couple of days ago, but in view of the healthcare soap opera that will be on view today it seems very timely.

(Thanks to BillK for the heads up.)

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Thursday, February 25th, 2010. Comments are currently closed.

11 Responses to “CN Premier Says: ‘My heart, My choice’”

  1. BillK

    Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams defends his right to obtain “The best” medical care – in the U.S.

    From the Canadian Press:

    ‘My heart, my choice,’ Williams says, defending decision for U.S. heart surgery

    By Tara Brautigam

    An unapologetic Danny Williams says he was aware his trip to the United States for heart surgery earlier this month would spark outcry, but he concluded his personal health trumped any public fallout over the controversial decision.

    In an interview with The Canadian Press, Williams said he went to Miami to have a “minimally invasive” surgery for an ailment first detected nearly a year ago, based on the advice of his doctors.

    This was my heart, my choice and my health,” Williams said late Monday from his condominium in Sarasota, Fla.

    I did not sign away my right to get the best possible health care for myself when I entered politics.

    The 60-year-old Williams said doctors detected a heart murmur last spring and told him that one of his heart valves wasn’t closing properly, creating a leakage.

    He said he was told at the time that the problem was “moderate” and that he should come back for a checkup in six months.

    Eight months later, in December, his doctors told him the problem had become severe and urged him to get his valve repaired immediately or risk heart failure, he said.

    His doctors in Canada presented him with two options – a full or partial sternotomy, both of which would’ve required breaking bones, he said.

    He said he spoke with and provided his medical information to a leading cardiac surgeon in New Jersey who is also from Newfoundland and Labrador. He advised him to seek treatment at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami.

    That’s where he was treated by Dr. Joseph Lamelas, a cardiac surgeon who has performed more than 8,000 open-heart surgeries.

    Williams said Lamelas made an incision under his arm that didn’t require any bone breakage.

    “I wanted to get in, get out fast, get back to work in a short period of time,” the premier said.

    Williams said he didn’t announce his departure south of the border because he didn’t want to create “a media gong show,” but added that criticism would’ve followed him had he chose to have surgery in Canada.

    “I would’ve been criticized if I had stayed in Canada and had been perceived as jumping a line or a wait list. … I accept that. That’s public life,” he said.

    “(But) this is not a unique phenomenon to me. This is something that happens with lots of families throughout this country, so I make no apologies for that.”

    Williams said his decision to go to the U.S. did not reflect any lack of faith in his own province’s health care system.

    “I have the utmost confidence in our own health care system in Newfoundland and Labrador, but we are just over half a million people,” he said.

    “We do whatever we can to provide the best possible health care that we can in Newfoundland and Labrador. The Canadian health care system has a great reputation, but this is a very specialized piece of surgery that had to be done and I went to somebody who’s doing this three or four times a day, five, six days a week.” …

    http://www.google.com/hostedne....._b-gsGGDxA

    Funny:

    I did not sign away my right to get the best possible health care for myself when I entered politics.

    Funny, that’s the very right Obama wants to take away from all Americans by destroying our health care system.

    You can see how, once again, a Canadian has made the very argument all of us have been trying to for years.

  2. Rusty Shackleford

    It’s truly sublime when such an argument as this, so simple, so true, completely deflates the lie that is obama and his gang of self-serving turds keeps trying to stuff us into.

    Why the lengthy, incomprehensible bills from the senate and the house? Because the greater the lie, the greater the need to hide it in complexity and more lies. Otherwise the average schmoe might figure it out and see it as a lie.

    Of course, the ultimate justice here is that in the age of social justice, should it come to pass, if a US citizen wanted to do something like this, even if there was a country they could go to to do it, it would be illegal and the US citizen would be punished upon their return.

    The sinister thing about this social justice/engineering thing is that the democrats will not let it rest because it is their fulcrum for all things socialism. They’ve wanted it since WWII, think that Europe does it right and really thinks that’s the epitome of intellectual supremacy, to make the US a European state. This I think stems from their ignorance of how and why this nation was started, why it evolved the way it did and why it became such a significant force to reckon with.

    The liberal mind-deads will beat their drums about “evil, selfish business” and “war-mongering evil empirical leaders” but it’s interesting to note that the greatest war this nation was ever involved in, was demanded by —-a democrat. That the Vietnam war was undertaken by—–a democrat. The Korrean war—-a democrat. And, two of those were considered stalemates at best, with one ending in a ceasefire and the other in a withdrawal of our forces after it was proven that we could win it, by a republican president.

    I stand as testimony to the powers of observation. It’s no great achievement, really, but my filters were turned off at a young age and I was able to take all things into account and not listen to overly emotional drivel and ridiculous arguments, even in my teenage years.

    I dismissed as well the ludicrous notion that my “peer group” had that the republicans are the ones who cause all the problems. It had become obvious to me that all persons in politics are there for much of their own reasons. Like has been said, “Washington DC is Hollywood for ugly people” and unfortunately, it has really evolved into a very close parallel to Hollywood, with exclusive clubs, dinners, awards ceremonies, and sometimes the two even blend.

    Politicians love the prominence and attention that their positions give them and they get easily addicted. But unlike Hollywood where their popularity hinges on the last picture they had, a politician’s lot is more challenging. But few of them are up to the task because once they lay an egg, they are at a loss as to how to recover from that. Case in point, Barry Hussein Obama, mmmm mmmm mmmm. I’m sure he’s noted his cratering popularity. But, unlike a Hollywood star, he is in the public eye 24/7 and therefore, reacts badly. Sure, a Hollywood celeb might clobber a guy with a camera, etc, but Barry’s frustrations are truly confining.

    He goes and plays golf, he wants to run away. The mark of a true leader, say, in the case of Eisenhower or even Harry Truman, would be to look at the situation, take the responsibility and meet it head on.

    Nope, this president, this boy-king, this dysfunctional tool of the cool, big kids in congress is now a whiny little dope who doesn’t know how to be responsible or how to make a hard decision unless it’s to punish those he truly despises and has all his life: The American People and the nation they live in.

    Think of it as the kid who’s parents are angry with him and rather than let them take away his toy, he stomps it into little pieces so that not only will he not have it, but nobody else can play with it either. He’s an angry, spoiled little boy who wants it his way. And, just like the guy who comes to fix the furnace, the American People are in no mood to put up with some bratty kid who gets in the way of them trying to do their job. Ultimately, the guy has to ask the parents to keep the kid away or he won’t finish and they’ll still get the bill. But in this case, the repairman is ignoring the kid, still trying to do their job, having to work around him, with him in the way at every step of the way, playing games and getting away with it.

    Such is our society today. Wouldn’t want to offend the parents (congress?) or hurt the little boy’s feelings (racism?) in spite of the fact that he’s really in the way and causing a lot of trouble and gleefully so.

    It’s a big game to him. One that he’s sure he will win. But even when he loses, and loses big, the sycophants around him will not let him think he’s lost. They will make excuses, comfort him, wrap him in warm-fuzzies and stroke his pathetically large ego. Just like all his life.

    It’s wrong, it’s stupid, it’s against everything this nation was founded on. And yet, it continues.

    • proreason

      The fascists have no intention to live like the little people.

      Indeed, the whole purpose of fascism is to live like royalty.

      It’s no surprise that this Canadian fascist is insisting that he didn’t do anything to be criticized for. Marie Antoinette felt the same way.

  3. njyankee

    I’m curious as to why Canada only offers the bone-breaking procedure. It can’t be cheaper than a small incision type surgery. My guess is that there aren’t any qualified doctors in Canada anymore since the ones that are any good left to make money somewhere else. But does anyone know the real reason?

    • conservativecanuck

      njy,

      I suspect a variety of reasons but the main one is simply CHA-CHING.

      Most of the money in health care here is used to support a bloated unionized workplace filled with bureaucrats that leaves little for r&d or modernized advancements. Tearing apart the chest is more economical than the method this twit got done.

      My wife required spinal surgery and had a choice of having a Canadian doctor in an invasive procedure with dubious results or attending a hospital in Florida that did a less-invasive micro-surgery. Being an experienced RN, she chose the later. Expensive procedure but well worth the money.

      After her surgery I spoke with the surgeon and asked why the procedure wasn’t offered in Canada. His response was that he had no idea. He had trained three Canadian doctors in the procedure for three months but on their return to Canada, the government refused to invest the money on the equipment required.

      It is true that we suffer a “brain drain” of doctors fleeing south, I know of four personally that have left and can’t say as I blame them. Our emergency rooms are filled with people who can’t find a family physician and never will.

      Paying for six stitches in the US cost me $150 a few years ago. My doctor gets $24. from the government for the same. Not a hard choice for a young physician IMHO.

      What shocks me more than anything is the fact my brothers and sisters to the south are headed down the same path.

    • conservativecanuck

      One other thing, your lead reads Canadian Prime Minister….. Williams is the Premier of Newfoundland and a member of the Liberal Party. Our Prime Minister is a member of the Conservative Party. Not a big deal but thought I would clarify that.

    • proreason

      “the government refused to invest the money on the equipment required”

      Many of us think that Universal Health Care in the US will stop medical innovation dead in it’s tracks.

      It’s rarely discussed, but it may be the most important point of all. Average lifespans have increased nearly 30 years in the last century. What will happen to funding for new procedures and medicines when the government controls every dollar?

      This article and your story are the answer to that question.

    • Steve

      “One other thing, your lead reads Canadian Prime Minister…”

      Thanks. It was a slip of the fingers.

    • conservativecanuck

      Pro,

      It’s also interesting to note that as our government budget shrinks, they “delist” services once every few years http://www.cvh.on.ca/admin/Del.....202006.pdf is the latest example.

      BTW, don’t try and shop for a cheaper price or better service, because under federal law, private clinics are not legally allowed to provide services covered by the Canada Health Act. Yes, that is called a monopoly but equality and fairness must be paramount.

      Prior to government controlling our health care and our lives, Canada was the cutting edge of medical technology (Banting and Best et al) but since that time we have just managed to keep our heads above water feeding the political machine.

      Perhaps someone could remind me of just one service any government ever took control of that improved.

      I love my country but detest the progressives that attempt to dictate every aspect of my life.

  4. BillK

    I’m disappointed none of the Republicans read this into the record at the “bipartisan” meeting today; perhaps they too could have been shut down by Dear Leader.


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