In B.C., patients post classified ads to find a family doctor

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In BC, patients post classified ads to find a family doctor

Excerpt from the advertisement that appeared in the “Times Colonist” at the end of July, in which Janet Mort asks for the public's help in finding a doctor for family for her husband. She explains that she has exhausted all her options.

Michael Mort, 82, a resident of Victoria, British Columbia, found a family doctor after his wife, Janet, placed an ad in the Times newspaper Colonist at the end of July. If the method may seem desperate, it highlights the shortage of family doctors in Canada, according to a professional in the field.

Janet and Michael Mort have been without a family doctor since theirs retired in December 2021.

As Michael Mort suffers from heart and neurological issues and, more recently, prostate, his wife decided to publish an advertisement in the newspaper, so that his medical care would not be interrupted.

It was my last option, says Janet Mort. I told [Michael] that if I put [an ad] in the paper all our friends and acquaintances would know [his] condition. He simply said, “Janet, I'm in dire straits and I'll do whatever you think is necessary to get medical attention.”

Doctor shortages a global headache

Janet Mort says she even considered sending her husband to a private clinic in Seattle, North ;State of Washington, but that this solution would have generated too high costs.

The couple are happy to have finally found a family doctor so that Michael Mort can get the physical exam he was hoping for as well as more specialized care.

Janet and Michael Mort are not the only ones to have appealed to the public to find a family doctor. Their approach prompted Vancouver's Gary Shuster to do the same in August, offering a $5,000 reward to anyone who would help him.

Margaret Fraser, a family physician and emergency physician in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, finds it terrible to have to use this means of getting care.

She is not not surprised, however, as she says the healthcare system is in the worst shape since she started working 12 years ago, especially when it comes to finding a family doctor.

Janet and Michael Mort had been without a family doctor since theirs retired in December 2021.

D' Elsewhere, according to an Angus Reid Institute survey released this week, 17% of Canadians consulted do not have a family doctor and 33% have difficulty getting an appointment with the one they ;they have.

It is also in British Columbia and Quebec (23% in both provinces) that people without a doctor are the most numerous, according to the survey data.

In an emailed statement, the British Columbia Ministry of Health says it is aware of Michael Mort's situation. He also recognizes that many other people in the province are feeling the effects of capacity issues.

We know that pandemic burnout is real and that many healthcare professionals, especially those in our primary care system, are not working or working less to care for them. themselves, says the ministry.

The Government of British Columbia recently announced an investment of $118 million to provide short-term support to family physicians while they create a new compensation model, expected to be announced this fall.

According to Dr. Fraser, there is no short-term solution to the doctor shortage.

Fixing the health care system is not something can be done in a four-year term, she says. Medical schools need to increase enrollment and there needs to be more training [opportunities] for people who come from outside of Canada.

As for Janet Mort, she hopes her husband's story will serve as motivation for other Canadians who don't have a family doctor.

If you have a family doctor, look in the mirror and tell yourself [you are] lucky. […] If your doctor retires or decides to move, you will find yourself [like us], helpless and alone, she says to them.

Start to make it heard, she advises.

With information from Bob Becken and the show Cross Country Checkup

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