Monday, August 20, 2007

How could Michael Moore miss this one?

Editorial from Great Falls (Mont.) Tribune:

Quads' arrival shows other side of Canadian system

We're sure we speak on behalf of the entire community of Great Falls as we send heartfelt congratulations to J.P. and Karen Jepp, the proud new parents of quadruplets born Sunday in Great Falls.

What a thrill to be part of such a miraculous birth. The chances of conceiving identical quadruplets are anywhere from 1 in 11 million to 1 in 16 million, according to perinatologist Tom Key.

That the risky births had a happy ending, with a quartet of four healthy sisters, is testament to the skill of Dr. Key and his outstanding staff at the Benefis East Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Hundreds of kids — kids who entered the world on a wing and a prayer — are running and playing today because of the live-saving efforts of Key and his team.

Kids like Mario Uggetti.

Now school age, Mario was born two hours after his mom, Laura Uggetti, arrived from Butte by Mercy Flight. He arrived 10 weeks early at only 3 pounds, 4 ounces. The traumatic birth caused bleeding on his brain.

But Mario pulled through and thrived.

"Without ... the staff at Benefis, Mario wouldn't be here," his mom told the Tribune as she watched him play after his first birthday.

The NICU admits more than 200 patients a year and is capable of breathtaking procedures to save their tiny patients, including open heart surgery.

For a community our size, we are blessed to have big-city care for our new arrivals.

And that brings us to our next point:

It's mind-boggling that no hospital in a cosmopolitan, oil-rich city the size of Calgary — much less any other hospital in Canada — could deliver the Jepp sisters.

Karen Jepp was flown to Great Falls after Calgary's Foothills Medical Centre called every high-level NICU unit in Canada in search of a hospital that could deliver the girls, reported The Globe and Mail newspaper Thursday. The province of Ontario had 200 such beds, but couldn't handle four babies together, the newspaper reported.

Jepp was the fifth Alberta woman sent to Benefis this year because of NICU shortages in Canada.

We've heard much talk lately about Canada's "free" health care system, glorified in Michael Moore's documentary "Sicko."

Canada is certainly superior when it comes to providing all citizens with basic, preventative health care — an admirable feat.

But the births of the Jepp sisters are case in point that Canada's medical infrastructure is as flawed as ours, just on the other end. Woe be those like Karen Jepp and her girls, whose lives depend on access to specialized doctors and surgeons.

As our congressmen debate the future of our health care system, we urge them to keep cases such as the Jepps' in mind.

Thankfully, everything went swimmingly for the Jepp family.

As they return home, we wish them the best.

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