An estimated 2,000 to 3,000 residents in Orléans have been left in need of a family doctor after three physicians at the Orléans Family Health Clinic informed their patients they will be leaving the clinic in the coming weeks and months. The patients received the news in the form of an e-mail.
Although the departure of the three doctors will still leave the clinic with 10 family phys-icians, each one of them already have a full roster and can’t take on any more patients.
One of those patients is Renée Beauchamp-Ladouceur says she was left “shocked” and “angry” when she received an email from the clinic notifying her that her doctor, Catherine Montpetit would be closing her practice in April along with Drs. Mariem Malak and Nasim Bahramifarid.
“I feel abandoned,” says Beauchamp-Ladouceur, who has chronic medical conditions that require monthly prescriptions and check ups.
In the e-mail sent out to their patients, the doctors do not explain why they’re ending their practices. The e-mail also informed the patients the remaining 10 doctors at the clinic would not be able to absorb them come April.
When contacted by the Orléans Star, the clinic would not comment on the matter citing privacy concerns. They also could not say if there was a plan to replace the three departing physicians.
The average roster for a doctor in Ottawa is between 700 and 1,000 patients, depending on the practice.
The average single person in Ottawa doesn’t have a family doctor. When they have a health concern, they usually go to the nearest clinic. For people with ongoing health concerns, or families, it’s a different matter. But trying to find a family doctor when you don’t already have one is getting more and more difficult, especially in Ottawa where an estimated 150,000 people are considered as “unattached”, meaning they are individuals, or families, who don’t currently have a family doctor, but are in need of one.
There are basically three ways to find a family doctor – through a referral, if the family doctor you are being referred to has space; by calling around and hoping you get lucky; or by registering with Health care Connect, a Ministry of Health registry which refers Ontarians who don’t have a physician to a family health care provider in their area who may be accepting new patients.
Unattached patients can call or go online to ontario.ca/healthcareconnect to register with the program and join the ever-growing waitlist in the province.
According to a Toronto City News report in October, some people have been on the list for as long as seven years and counting. The wait time depends on where you live and whether or not you have extenuating health issues.
And the situation will likely gets worse before it gets any better.
Like teachers, there are currently more doctors retiring than are entering the work force. According to a report written by Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table on the family care crisis in the province, approx-imately 1.7 million Ontarians were attached to a family physician 65 or older. That means that these individuals could lose their doctors by 2025, and according to the science table’s findings, since 2020, 1.8 million people in the province have already lost their family doctor.
The situation with the doctors leaving the Orléans Family Health Clinic has nothing to do with age. All three doctors leaving are well under the age of retirement, but their departure only exacerbates a trend whereby their are fewer and fewer family doctors and more and more people in need of one.