Getting Medical Help in Hull (Gatineau) Québec – or not

Eddy Street, looking South from Frontenac, Hull Québec.

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Below: Rajah (left) and Traveler. Rajah, rescued from abusive owners when he was a year or so, is now 20 years old, deaf as a post and arthritic. Traveler is a one-year-old son of another rescue cat who came my way. His mom and siblings went to good homes, and Traveler, despite his name, has stayed with me.

These guys are my best friends and are a true source of comfort as I’m dealing with the astonishingly awful medical system here.

I’m prone to depression, have level 10 misophonia and a slew of medical disorders, some not even recognized in this province (!) even though they are in others. The Hull (Gatineau) Québec medical system is so backward that the Hull hospital was declared to be the worst Emergency department in the Western world. Ottawa piled money into it. Some of that may have trickled down, but my experiences there became worse instead of better, and I am sure somebody in management is driving a new car. Nah, Im not vindictive. I know how these things go.

If you need a family doctor you will wait at least three years, and that is the short list – for people with chronic conditions, life-threatening diseases, mental health issues such as depression or anxiety, or pregnancy.  Even if you are a pregnant elephant you`d be getting your doctor just as the calf is reaching its first birthday. A pregnant woman? Hold your legs together honey, it’s only a couple more years. At least you save money on diapers.

The severity of your medical condition is based on how many times you visit the hospital. Now that`s enough to shoot one`s anxiety levels through the roof. Doctors don`t want to work at Gatineau or Hull hospitals due to the situation. They are overworked, the province forces them to take on more patients than they can handle and makes false promises that more doctors will be arriving soon. Um. No. This has been going on for years. And for one reason or another, some of these local docs are downright nasty.  I’ll be elaborating on that later.

As for minor or outpatient surgery … this sends chills down my spine. A few years ago an outbreak of flesh-eating disease at Hull Hospital left one friend with huge chunks of flesh torn out of his leg, and had he not still been IN the hospital at the time, he would have lost his leg or died – which, sadly, happened to a friend`s girlfriend, who was in for minor surgery but had already been released when the disease struck. It travels fast. RIP, poor girl.

Clinics do not accept walk-ins. You will get vigorously snarled at if you presume to think that you will get a doc at a clinic. In all of Hull there is one clinic open to the public and you have to get there early to see a medical practicioner. One of the doctors working there is a known (convicted) pedophile. Yet he`s still practicing medicine in the same place. Bievenue a Hull.

Language wars are alive and well in this province, and none worse than in the Québec medical system. I speak English, German and some French. However, the french spoken in Gatineau is nowhere near the French spoken in France – it`s just about a different language, replete with appropriated and recycled English words, local dialects and nasal slang, often spoken with machine-gun-like rapidity at the top of the lungs. If you do not speak this language (which some folks call Gatinese) you could have a tough time. I’ve witnessed more than a few altercations as some french-speaking store clerks or even people on the street can take offense at the English language. Unfortunately, the problem persists even at a higher level, ie the medical system.

I was bowled over by a man in a local shop whose French was immaculate. I understood him perfectly and expressed my astonishment, to which he smiled and said, “Yes … I’m from Algeria.”

Unfortunately, if you do not speak the language, you are faced with extremely limited resources in the medical system. The refusal of the system to honor my request for English communication (request for English did exist at one time, but now does not) caused and continues to cause major health havoc for me. Now there are very good and competent doctors and medical staff, and I have been fortunate to encounter some of these dear angels, but for every one who can help you, there are ten that are more likely to kill you. If you are moving to Hull … well … bonne chance!

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Well, I’m on a public computer and the Library is closing so I’ve got to cut this short. Have a happy day!

Love all

Maureen