Growing up I had the same family doctor as everyone else in my family. Dr. D was a general practitioner and we went to him for everything. What he couldn’t do for us, he would refer to someone who could.
It never occurred to me that people wouldn’t have a family doctor. I mean, you need one right?! When I was in University I decided that Dr. D was no longer the right Dr for me for a few reasons: 1. I wanted a female doctor to perform the pelvic examinations and 2. Dr D told me when I was 17 I needed to lose a few pounds and I had just confided in him that I had suffered from Anorexia from 14-15 and lost over 50 pds in a matter of months. I was unimpressed with his bedside manner. So I left him, even though my father and brother were still his patients (though in 2003 when he almost let my father die I did consider running him over with car as the smug bastard went home)
I did some research online and found a Dr who was located close to my house, a female and spoke perfectly clear English (I had visited one who I swear English was not a priority for her). Dr B. has been my family doctor now for 10 years and she has helped me through everything! She knows my entire history – things no one else knows, all my embarrassing issues, my annoying thoughts and my family troubles. She is wonderful. I have no plans to ever leave her practice unless she retires.
So what’s the problem then? Why am I blogging about a woman who hasn’t taken new patients in years? Am I bragging…hahahaha I have a family doctor and maybe you don’t? No, of course I’m not. I am blogging because I am upset. I am upset that in Canada we have AMAZING health care. We don’t pay an arm and a leg to visit a doctor. We don’t have to decide between getting a check up and paying the rent. We are blessed.
However, there is a scary trend popping up (at least in Toronto) and I don’t like it. The general practitioners office is disappearing and these obnoxious walk in clinics are opening up everywhere. Walk in clinics have a few doctors and MANY patients. You can book an appointment with a specific doctor if you want to but this is not always possible. Most of the patients are walk-ins. They have large waiting rooms with sick people – like really sick people who are coughing and hacking all over the place and even walking by the walk-in clinic near my house makes me want to vomit. You can go to numerous walk-in clinics – a different one every day. It doesn’t have to be the same one and your file never transfers with you.
This scares me. Dr B knows my health history; she doesn’t have to rely on me to tell her anything. She has a running tally of everything that’s happened to me in the past ten years. What could a walk-in clinic doctor possibly do for me? They know nothing about me and when I go back in 6 months, I’ll get another doctor who again, knows NOTHING about me. Dr B has significantly decreased her hours of availability and my terrible fear is she is considering retiring. What I will do then I don’t know. I don’t want to utilize a walk-in clinic for my health needs, but I don’t know many people who have a family doctor anymore. They seem as obsolete as the VCR, the record player and Walkman, not impossible to find, but you have to search really hard and some days you will come up empty-handed.. Will I be forced into a confined space with 100 other people who are all hoping some random doctor hurries up and sees me and remembers that I have had surgery three times in four years?? God I hope not.