OHIP dithers on helping girl with cerebral palsy
Ontario’s leaders merrily waste millions on windmills. They squander a billion to kill gasplants. They spend gazillions on political nests and hydro bonuses.
In the next four years, the Kathleen Wynne government will tote up another $50 billion in debt. We are governed by drunken sailors.
BUT HELP KIDS WITH CEREBRAL PALSY?!
Watch their vault door slam shut. See the red tape pile up.
Man, oh, man, Queen’s Park’s priorities are effed up.
Take, for instance, the $435,000 Ms. Wynne wasted on an expert panel to fight her own auditor general over pension bookkeeping — so she could make the deficit seem smaller. (What a shocker, the panel sided with the government.)
Well, that $435,000 could instead have helped 10 kids with cerebral palsy get life-changing surgery — instead of forcing their families to raise the funds themselves.
I’ll let you decide which you’d rather spend your taxes on.
Which brings me and photographer Stan Behal to Variety Village to reconnect with Madison “Madi” Ambos, 3, and her mom Katherine Gregoire.
You may remember Madi from a December column during my annual campaign for the Village, which is a sports and rec complex geared to kids with disabilities.
Back then, Madi told me she wants to be a doctor when she grows up, “to fix people.” Or an outfielder for her beloved Blue Jays.
The latter seems unlikely, since Madi has CP and uses a walker. But I would not bet against her and, heck, even Jose Bautista will need a walker sooner or later.
Hey, Madi, what’s new since we saw you last?
“I got a pink monkey for Christmas,” she whispers.
“And we’re going to St. Louis.”
“To make my legs walk.”
The surgery is called selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) and neurosurgeon T.S. Park is the maestro. You can’t yet get SDR in Canada (though Park once worked at Sick Kids).
In early May, Dr. Park, as he has done for 3,000 other kids, will rewire the nerves in Madi’s spine to relieve the spasticity so characteristic of CP.
It works, so families line up, including dozens from Ontario.
You’d think Queen’s Park would be at their side, offering OHIP and paperwork help, and a “bon voyage!” Right?
Let’s ask Madi’s mom.
“OHIP called yesterday (Wednesday),” says Katherine, 33, “and they still can’t give me an answer.” (Wonderful. Surgery is May 2.)
“If it were an experimental procedure, I could understand why things are so slow,” she says.
“But SDR is actually listed (as approved) on the ministry website. That’s what’s so frustrating and disheartening.
“It just takes so long. It seems so backward.”
The surgery costs $45,000, plus a year of rehab and other expenses for a total near $140,000.
Madi’s family is raising the money themselves — through gofundme.com, a soiree thrown by Ultimate Leafs Fan Mike Wilson and, on March 18, Madi’s Paddy Day Party at Legion Branch 345 near Victoria Park and St. Clair.
See, time’s a’ wastin’ for Madi. Her feet are starting to curl.
Cerebral palsy waits for no bureaucrat. By age eight, even St. Louis can’t help. Madi’s doctors fear she’ll be in a wheelchair by her teens.
But SDR surgery may have her dashing through life even without a walker.
So (we hope) Madi walks. The province talks. There’s talk of slashing red tape. (Ontario has just two specialists who can OK a trip to St. Louis, and you must live in their “catchment” area to get an appointment.) There’s talk of performing SDR surgery in Toronto. There’s talk of OHIP protocols. Talk, talk, talk.
The ministry of health reiterated as much in a reply on deadline to my queries Thursday. It said the Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee (I wonder how much we pay them) is expected to report on SDR protocols by next spring.
Same old, same old. My former workmate, Christina Blizzard, wrote of a similar case, with the same bureaucratic bafflegab — in 2015.
Maybe Queen’s Park will come through for these kids — before Madi Ambos is patrolling centre field for the Blue Jays.