Parents in Ontario to pay for virtual clinic pediatric consultations

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Parents in Ontario will pay for virtual clinic pediatric consultations

The KixCare pediatric virtual consultation service will be chargeable from December 1 (archives).

Parents and doctors denounce the Ford government's cuts in funding for virtual appointments with pediatricians. Already, online clinic KixCare has announced that it will stop offering free consultations starting December 1.

This virtual clinic offers on-demand consultations for sick children, 24 hours a day.

The company says its pediatricians have seen 20,000 young patients virtually in the past year.

However, starting December 1, parents will have to pay $29 per month to use its services.

KixCare says it made this decision because of the new government policy that reduces fees paid for virtual consultations from $37 to $15 per patient.

“There may never be a good time for cuts, but it's definitely not the right time right now.

— Dr. Harley Eisman, pediatrician and co-founder of KixCare

Emergency wait times at children's hospitals in Ontario can be up to 12 hours, due to increased demand related to the rise in respiratory infections caused by influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and COVID-19.

SickKids Hospital in Toronto even had to cancel surgeries due to lack of resources.

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Leah Littlepage says that without the virtual consultations, she would have had to bring her little girl to the emergency room at least four times in the last year, for lack of a family doctor.< /p>

Leah Littlepage, a mother in Ottawa, says that without KixCare services, she would have had to take her 16-month-old daughter to the emergency room at least 4 times in the past year.

“It is unfortunate that funding for this program is being cut at a time when children's hospitals are overflowing.

— Leah Littlepage, mother

Dr. Aviva Lowe, a Toronto pediatrician who worked for KixCare, says other pediatricians might also stop offering free virtual consultations, because the fee reduction is “substantial.”

The Ministry of Health explains that the lower fees for virtual consultations are the result of an agreement reached with the Ontario Medical Association , which represents physicians.

“Virtual consultations are meant to complement in-person care, not an alternative.

—Ministry of Health (statement)

The province this week asked family physicians to extend their hours of practice and in some cases offer services 7 days a week to help relieve congestion in children's hospitals.

Based on information from Sara Jabakhanji, CBC

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