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Telephones ringing off the hook at medical clinic taking new sufferers

Telephones ringing off the hook at medical clinic taking new sufferers

When individuals in want of a physician present up at Southbank Medical Centre, they’re requested to fill out a brand new affected person type and given a stark breakdown of their probabilities.

“We have been getting telephone calls, like hundreds of telephone calls a day,” one nurse informed two males ready outdoors the Ottawa clinic Tuesday night earlier than wishing them luck with their functions.

“I am unable to let you know a day that they are going to have the ability to provide you with a name,” she continued. “It might take every week. It might take a few weeks, and it could take a few months.”

The centre and walk-in clinic in South Keys — no stranger to lengthy traces — has been completely swamped by guests after an indication a few new physician was photographed, posted on-line and unfold like wildfire. 

The clinic has discovered itself on the entrance line of town’s household doctor scarcity, with Ottawa Public Well being giving an replace on the state of affairs at Monday evening’s well being board assembly.

In keeping with the replace from Medical Officer of Well being Dr. Vera Etches, roughly one in 10 residents did not have a household physician as of March 2020. 

An analogous estimate from nationwide surveys of the variety of residents with out entry to common main care could now be as excessive as 150,000. 

That want is just elevated by latest immigrants, who particularly battle to seek out main care. In keeping with Etches’ replace, Ottawa is “at the moment failing” newcomers on this regard. 

‘The telephones have been ringing like loopy’

Whereas Dr. Paule Davilmar — who not too long ago moved to Gatineau, Que., from New Brunswick — does not open her household apply till Feb. 21, the crowds started to type at Southbank Medical on Friday quickly after the signal was posted within the ready and affected person examination rooms.

A line of about 50 individuals had wrapped across the constructing earlier than the centre opened Monday morning.

Workplace administrator Debbie Walsh, who did not know they’d introduced Davilmar’s arrival when she got here to work that day, stated in 18 years working there she’d by no means seen demand that top. 

“The telephones have been ringing like loopy,” she stated. “The emails have been coming in. And I used to be like, what is occurring?” 

It is so unhappy that these sufferers are with out medical doctors.​​​​​– Debbie Walsh, workplace administrator

By the top of day, clinic workers had handed out 450 new affected person types.

When an overwhelmed Walsh informed individuals to electronic mail them as an alternative, her inbox was full of 1,500 messages.

Whereas Tuesday was calmer, the telephones continued to ring, Walsh stated, and by that night roughly 3,000 individuals had tried contacting them a method or one other since Sunday.

Southbank Medical Centre — no stranger to long lines — has been absolutely swamped by visitors after a sign posted about a new doctor joining them was photographed, posted online and spread like wildfire.
Potential new sufferers are being requested to fill out types like these, though the clinic can be reminding them that they are getting hundreds of telephone calls and it is unclear once they’ll hear again. (Joseph Tunney/CBC)

Walsh stated she’s even snuck by means of the rear entrance in latest days, hoping to not get swarmed as quickly as she walks within the door. 

“It is so unhappy that these sufferers are with out medical doctors,” she stated.

CBC has up to now been unable to line up an interview with Davilmar. However Dr. Anees Khan, one of many centre’s part-owners, stated it is as much as her to resolve what number of new sufferers she’s comfy taking.

Whereas one other of their medical doctors can be topping up their record of sufferers, the centre can not tackle everybody, Khan stated — even when it is in “perpetual recruitment mode.”   

“As a result of this can be a mission,” the doctor stated. “It isn’t a enterprise. It is a mission.” 

They even tried bringing medical doctors from the UK a couple of years in the past, Khan stated, though they did not like Canada’s health-care system or local weather and left.

By the end of day, Southbank Medical Centre staff had handed out 450 new patient forms.
By the top of Monday, Southbank Medical Centre workers had handed out 450 new affected person types. (Joseph Tunney/CBC)

Khan stated the work at Southbank Medical is completed with a ardour and love of Ottawa, and he ensures all new medical doctors are conscious of that.

He stated Ontario’s Ministry of Well being ought to subsidize hire and even the salaries at small operations like his, and that one strategy to alleviate stress is to recruit extra foreign-trained physicians whose credentials will be verified.

“I believe that’s doable,” he stated. “All that it wants is intention and grit … in order that sufferers should not held at ransom.”

‘Preserving my fingers crossed’

Outdoors the centre’s entrance doorways, would-be sufferers like Vasu Upadhya are informed there isn’t any assure he can land a physician even after driving in from Kanata. 

His physician introduced she’s retiring following a maternity depart and Upadhya has already been calling household physicians at native hospitals and opening functions as far-off as Smiths Falls, Perth and Arnprior.

Vasu Upadhya's doctor announced she's retiring, leaving him to call physicians' offices and open applications as far away as Smiths Falls, Perth and Arnprior in an attempt to find primary care.
Upadhya’s physician has introduced she’s retiring, leaving him to name workplaces and open functions as far-off as Smiths Falls, Perth and Arnprior in an try to seek out main care. (Joseph Tunney/CBC)

Filling out the brand new affected person type, he left the parking zone annoyed — however with few different choices. 

“I attempted my greatest,” Upadhya stated. “So [I’m] maintaining my fingers crossed, and hopefully I get to listen to again from them.”

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