Monday, September 25, 2006

Fuming Over Healthcare

Today I decided to go to the doctor after work to get an earache checked out. Given that it was bugging me on and off for the last few weeks, I thought that it was high time to seek some medical advice. Naturally, I decided to go to my family doctor. Now here's the kicker. When I started going there about 3 years ago, he was just starting up his practice. His hours were great. He was open on Saturdays, and he was open until 7pm on weekdays. In the last year or so, he has estabished himself in the community, and decided that it was no longer necessary to actually serve patients, so he started cutting back his hours. Now, he only works until 5pm on weekdays, and doesn't have weekend hours. For those of us who actually have to work for a living, it's not exactly convenient. To top it all off, after 3pm, it's walk-in only.

Having been accustomed to this stupid schedule for the last year, I planned my workday accordingly. I came in at my regular time, and took a very short lunch so that I could leave work earlier to see the doctor. This was already an extreme inconvenience because I actually had work that I needed to get through. I even called the clinic beforehand to ensure that I could come in as a walk-in after 3pm. Well, to my surprise when I got there, I found out that the doctor has decided to turn away walk-ins because he was getting too many of them this afternoon.

I was fuming. And why shouldn't I be? As citizens of a country that provides government-subsidized healthcare, we have nothing to show for it. Doctors that won't see their own patients. Overcrowded hospitals. Nurses who are treated like second-class citizens. Huge emergency room wait times. And most of all, a decrease in the services paid for by our so-called "universal" healthcare. In the 18 years that I've lived in this country, I've seen the quality of healthcare decline steadily but surely. Once upon a time, annual eye exams used to be covered by OHIP. Then it changed over to coverage once every two years. Now, well, you're on your own, buddy. Not to mention every time I visit the doctor's office, there's a new item added to the list of things NOT covered by OHIP.

To continue my story, I decided to try to find another family practice. If I could find another one that would treat me better, I was certainly not giving my former bozo of a doctor any more of my business. I stopped off at a pharmacy where I got the name of a family doctor who was supposedly taking new patients. I called them up, and arranged for an appointment within 15 minutes. Well, it turns out that when I asked for the clinic's exact location, the receptionist then proceeded to ask me if I was a patient there. When I told her that I wasn't my newly-acquired appointment was promptly rescinded because I wasn't an existing patient and only existing patients were given walk-ins. Well, what if I wanted to become a new patient? Nope, sorry. If I wanted to see a doctor, I had to go to a walk-in clinic. New patients were only being taken as of December. December? They must be out of their minds! That's when I gave her a piece of my mind and hung up on her.

So, we're paying up the wazoo for publicly-funded healthcare with reduced benefits and doctors who won't see their patients. It makes me many people say that they wish to become doctors because they want to help people. I wanted to be helped. Why wouldn't they help me? My own family doctor refused to see his patient of 3 years. Another family doctor would've seen me had I been an existing patient, but then refused to see me because I wasn't a patient there.

You know what the worst part of it is? The healthcare that we finally do get when we are seen by a family physician is mediocre at best. The fact of the matter is, the residency program for family doctors is a joke! Medical school graduates who wish to practice family medicine need only spend two years in residency. TWO YEARS! That's nothing compared to the 4+ years spent in residency by doctors in any other area.

So what am I left with? Inventing a pill that will never make me sick or letting my situation get worse until I have to go to the emergency rooms aren't exactly good options. I did eventually cave and go to a walk-in clinic, but only because I was desperate. I think next time though, I might resort to herbal medicine. The couple of times I tried it seemed to work and at least I won't be turned away by the doctors.

No comments: