By Sabrina Almeida
Mississauga, November 13 (CINEWS): It’s a rare instance when doctors state that the quality of healthcare in Ontario is slipping. As patients we have cribbed for years about the long wait times for specialists, tests and surgical procedures or how we are quickly hustled through medical appointments to accommodate those waiting outside. Two unilateral fee cuts on physician fees this year however have doctors miffed and they insist that it is at the cost of patient care. I shudder to think of what that might mean.
Minister Hoskins, on the other hand, counters that they are still the highest paid in the country.
What has been your experience with the healthcare system? After all this is what forms our opinions. It is my observation that positive or negative views are typically based on the time we have spent here.
As new immigrants from countries where we mostly had to pay for healthcare services we are initially grateful for the seemingly “free” medical attention. But as our roots get more firmly entrenched and we experience the cogs in the system this gratitude soon morphs into laments of how it could be better.
Complaints are part of human nature
Do we really have something to complain about? My diagnosis is that we all believe we deserve more attention and we want it now. Waiting is a bitter pill to swallow so much so some have come up with their own antidote… to exaggerate their symptoms. You might say this is trickery but not necessarily. If you consult Doctor Internet about any condition it does seem like you are in the most advanced stages. So while you wait to see your family physician or a specialist, Dr. Google has already helped you self-diagnose and self-medicate. Yet in serious situations I’ve seen more than one patient have the immediate attention we all demand. One lady I know, went in for her routine physical and was put through the whole battery of tests which confirmed she had terminal cancer all in the same day.
Lack of consistency among doctors
Your experience is naturally defined by the healthcare practitioners you encounter and this is what creates the problems as well as the loopholes in the system. Take my own experience. I received a notification from Peel Health about updating my son’s immunization records. I promptly went to the medical clinic only to be told that the walk-in doctor may or may not do the needful! I was expected to book an appointment with my family physician. Not wanting to pull my son out of school (because he is 16 now) for this small update, I chose to do a walk-in the next day when my doctor was on duty. I mentioned my dissatisfaction to her and was informed that whether or not I could have completed the formalities the previous day was at the discretion of the attending physician. This is ridiculous especially since a few years back I was able to get the information I needed over the phone. A friend whose parents are on vacation (in another country) and went to talk to their family physician about what would happen to their OHIP coverage if they stayed out for more than six months, had better luck. He was pleasantly surprised to find the doctor was very accommodating and reassured him that there would be no interruption in service when they came back.
Doctors are victims of clinic management
Unless doctors have their own clinics they must follow the rules of the establishments in which they practice. This often means forcing patients to come in for routine prescriptions or record updates like I had to do. It’s all about the billing and that’s what sometimes makes the system seem inhuman. For instance the clinic I’m registered with has significantly reduced the number of “appointments” a doctor can see probably to accommodate more walk-in patients. As result routine checkups have to be booked months in advance. It will be interesting to see what happens now considering the cap on their fees.
I’ve had my fair share of run-ins with the healthcare system. However, it wouldn’t be fair not to acknowledge the positives. My happy experience during a diagnostic test at Credit Valley Hospital is the most recent example of why I’m still thankful. Yet with the rising costs of providing these services on account of the blatant and recurrent misuse by a few, we may soon have to give up this privilege. So in the meanwhile we’d better take what we can get!