The Premier for Newfoundland, one of Canada’s eastern provinces, underwent heart surgery last week. Where do you suppose Premier Danny Williams went for his surgery? To a hospital in St. John’s, the capital city of Newfoundland? Nope. Perhaps he travelled to a larger Canadian metropolis, such as Toronto or Montreal? Guess again. Actually, the premier chose to have his cardiac repair performed not anywhere in his own country. Like so many of his fellow Canadians, Premier Williams eschewed his country’s government-insured health care system, and instead came south to the United States to undergo life-saving and time-sensitive surgery.
While neither the premier’s office nor other official outlets in Canada would disclose the location of the hospital where Williams received his treatment, sources indicated it may have been in Florida. Regardless of where in the US the surgery was performed, the fact that a high-ranking Canadian government leader would forego receiving medical treatment in his own country and travel instead to the United States to be treated in a health care system that is not yet controlled by the government, has created somewhat of a PR embarrassment for advocates of Canada’s government-controlled system. It really shouldn’t be an embarrassment; and it certainly shouldn’t surprise anyone.
This episode simply reflects the reality that procedures such as those which the Canadian provincial leader underwent — which are not always available elsewhere – are always readily available in the United States. This incident also is a reflection of the high esteem in which American medicine (especially cardiac medicine) is held throughout the world.