You haven’t lived till you’ve been declared dead

by Hal Newman

I have a strange relationship with the Government of Quebec’s Health Insurance Agency. Every couple of years they declare me dead.

They don’t actually check to see if I have pulse. No one comes over to verify whether I’m breathing – or not. They don’t even send an Sp-3 form over to the house for any physician friends of ours to complete.

They just notify the Director General of Elections for Quebec that I no longer require a Quebec Medicare card because I’ve ceased to exist. And then the Director General of Elections of Quebec sends a note to tell me that my name has been stricken from the electoral list.

Then I call the Elections folks and assure them I am very much alive, still paying my property, income and corporate taxes, still hold a Canadian passport and have recently renewed all kinds of forms for other Quebec government agencies including my driver’s permit and our vehicle registration.

And then we talk about how strange a situation this is.

And I tell them about the last time the Health Insurance folks declared me to be null and void and no longer in need of a Quebec Medicare card. July 7, 2007 was the last time this happened. Actually, it happens every couple of years on randomly selected dates.

The Elections folks have a theory that some bureaucrat is jerking my chain because of the randomness of the dates. They say that if the notification to them that I am pushing up the daisies was at least tied to the date my driver’s permit expired, they could write this off as some kind of bizarre one-in-nearly-eight-million IT system error.

The apparent randomness of them receiving notification of my sudden departure from this address and this plane of consciousness leads them to believe that someone is deliberately tampering with my supposed-to-be-sacrosaint-data in their allegedly-secure database.

This does not give me the warm and fuzzies when I consider the future of electronic health records. You have to wonder how it’s possible for one citizen’s records to be altered on an ongoing basis. And while the deletion from the ranks of the living strikes me as a very serious concern, the Elections folks are aghast that someone could have their right to cast a vote eliminated in this manner.

They weren’t going to let this slide. They framed a strategy. They said I needed to reach out to my local elected provincial representative and let he and his staff know what had happened. And if that doesn’t work they suggested dropping a line to the Premier’s office. No one has the right to mess with your right to vote. Not in this Province. Not on their watch.

The good news is that I have been restored to the electoral list and can vote in the upcoming municipal elections. The bad news is that there is some concern that I’ll be having the same conversation with the folks at the Elections office in two years, give or take a month, when news of my death is greatly exaggerated once again.

Be well. Practice big medicine.

A medic who lost his way

by Hal Newman

Jamie Flanz was one of my medics. He lost his way after he left EMS and ended up affiliated with a biker gang. He was murdered as part of a massacre conducted by rival gang members.

They singled Jamie out because he was a Jew and saved him for last so he could, presumably, be further tormented before they shot him at point blank range.

They should have singled him out because he was a good streetmedic. He was.

I still miss him.

I wrote this about his death:

“Jamie Flanz was murdered two springs ago. His passing had no connection to the EMS world other than the fact that his obvious state of death probably didn’t require a streetmedic to declare the absence of life signs.

He was a good medic and was a gentle, reassuring presence with many of our most senior patients. He put in many a shift at the last minute because I called and asked for his help.
It is the transient and intense nature of EMS that lifesavers often come and go without much in the way of heralding their arrival or their departure. They touch lives and impact universes and then they move on to live the rest of their lives.

There are, apparently, no guarantees on how long the rest of their lives will be. Maybe some of them have an inkling of sunset rapidly approaching and decide to go out flaming while others simply pull the bedcovers up over their heads.”

Be well. Practice big medicine.