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In May, the Canadian Red Cross and representatives of the federal, provincial, territorial and Quebec governments signed a series of letters of intent to clarify the terms of transfer for Red Cross Blood Services employees who will join the staff of the new Canadian Blood Services (CBS) and its Quebec equivalent, Hema-Quebec. The Red Cross will transfer most of its 3,500 Blood Services employees, who work at dozens of centers across Canada to the new agencies by September 1, 1998.
Both CBS and Hema-Quebec plan to launch their operations on September 1, 1998. CBS and Hema-Quebec have also forged plans that will ensure a high degree of coordination and cooperation between the two blood agencies.
Problems of patient access to medical services resulting from doctor shortages are being reported in communities across Canada, according to a new national study released today by the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC). In its first-ever national family physician workforce survey, the CFPC found that 52.8% of family doctors report problems of patient access to medical care. As well, about one third of all family doctors say there are physician shortages in their communities. The 1997 National Family Physician Survey was released by the CFPC at its Annual Scientific Assembly being held in Halifax. Part of a larger initiative called the Janus Project, the survey provides a detailed look at how the 25,000 family physicians and general practitioners in this country are meeting the changing health care needs of their patients.
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Doctors in Canada, India Use Technology Link for Real-Time Communications; Donations by Intel, Cylink Wireless and Data Telemark Work Together to Cut across Geographical Boundaries
Doctors at two children's hospitals -- Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children and the Sri Ramachandra Medical College in Porur, Chennai, India, are exchanging critical medical information via video conference due to a communications link, donated by Intel Corporation, Cylink Wireless Communications (a P-Com company) and Data Telemark. With the Intel TeamStation Systems, the doctors are now able to have face-to-face discussions and share critical X-rays, electrocardiograms, echocardiograms and angiograms over the high-speed two-way information network. They can exchange opinions on diagnosis, treatment, surgical techniques, post-surgery treatment and even view diagnostic and therapeutic procedures in real time.
In May, the Ontario Association of Medical Laboratories (OAML) announced a two-year agreement with the Ontario Ministry of Health, effective April 1, 1998 that allows for a funding increase in the industry cap of 1.5% in each year of the two-year term. The agreement also calls for a one-time payment, in partial recognition of the dramatic increase in community-based laboratory service demand. The community-based laboratory services industry operates in a capped funding environment. Since 1991, industry funding has steadily decreased and community-based laboratory volumes have continually increased. For the year ending March 31, 1998, the industry cap was $425M while $512M in services was actually provided to the community -- a shortfall of more than $87M.
In a press release, OAML CEO Virginia A. Turner commented, "For the first time in nine years, the Ministry has finally recognized the need for increased funding to support growing community-based care. Patients are leaving hospitals sooner and sicker. The laboratory services our industry provides to the community support patients as they recover and save money in our health care system. However, more than 25% of the services the industry presently provides are still not funded." The OAML member laboratories provide diagnostic laboratory services for more than 13.5 million community-based patient visits in Ontario each year, including more than one million patients in their homes. The industry also provides services for long-term care facilities, hospitals and Public Health Laboratories across the full Province of Ontario.
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