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Northern Idaho hospital angles for medical tourists

hospital croppedNorthwest Specialty Hospital in Post Falls has started marketing to Canadian visitors who are fed up with long waits for procedures in their home country and have cash to spend in the United States.

The hospital has added a small Canadian flag to its website. The flag is a link to the procedures with some of the longest waiting times in Canada, including work on knees, hips, shoulders, and ACL tears. Included in the deal is a stay at the nearby Coeur d’Alene Resort.

“So the resort picks them up at the airport, them and their spouse, takes them to the hotel, puts them in a nice room overlooking the lake,” said CEO Rick Rasmussen.

While the spouse enjoys the spa, the patient gets a new knee.

“And they’re back out playing curling this winter rather than waiting, you know, two years,” Rasmussen said.

Post Falls is about 400 miles south of Calgary. Valorie Crooks, a health geographer at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, said Canadians often head south to avoid the wait lists of their national healthcare system. The demand for knee and hip procedures is especially high with Canada’s aging baby boom population.

Patients have to pay for the procedures, and do their own research. Crooks said that even when the procedure goes as planned, the patient’s recovery becomes the responsibility of the Canadian health care system.

“The practice of Canadians going to the United States for these sort of out-of-pocket payment health care arrangements raise some of the similar types of questions as Canadians going to any other country in the world, including sort of lesser developed nations,” Crooks said.





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