Monday, 28 November 2011

The Ontario health orphanage

I got an anniversary card on Friday.

It's been exactly one year since I joined the Ontario Government's Health Care Connect program which is designed to match orphaned patients with family doctors.

About every quarter, I get a form letter saying the program is still looking for a doctor for me, and reminding me not to give up the search myself.

Fortunately, I am in good health and I have the ability to seek out medical attention when necessary. For example, I needed cataract surgery and got it through a referral from my optometrist.

Today, I will be on the phone to get a breast exam to the Ontario Breast Screening Program which I can access without a family doctor.

But like thousands in this province, I have to rely on over-crowded, uncaring clinics for my medical needs. When I'm really sick, as I was three weeks ago, I can take myself down the street to the Ottawa Hospital's urgent care centre.

This, to me, is not good enough.

On at least two occasions, I have been to the clinics to get a referrals to specialists and both times, the clinic lost the paper work. Scott went to the same clinic when he contracted a dangerous form of cellulitis. The clinic referred him to the hospital, but when he called later, the clinic didn't have any record in its system that he had ever been there.

On the same day.

We all need family doctors to follow us and the system has been great in the past. Family docs get to know you, they catch disease in its infancy, and they fight for a patient who needs specialty care.

But nobody cares about us orphans.

I did a bit of investigating today, and I discovered that 15,395 patients have joined the Health Care Connect program in our local health district since February 2009. Of that number, only 6,368 patients found a family doctor, and 877 very sick patients got one. Overall, the program is currently serving 121,925 patients and only 75,721 patients found doctors.

It means that only 61.1 percent of those registered found doctors overall, and less than 50 percent found doctors in our own region.

The McGuinty government likes to boast about the great strides it is making in health care. But these numbers show their health care system is running on about half a tank.

My question is this. Why are we spending money on a program that doesn't work for the people of Ontario? I am convinced that nothing has been done on my file. The bureaucrats have merely put my name in a database.

We all know what happens. The government boasts that they've set up an initiative, Health Care Connect, which will help find doctors for orphaned patients. Then politicians boast about it in speeches.

But it's nothing more than a shill, a bureaucratic time waster.

It doesn't get the job done.

I can't wait until I get the form letter telling me that the program has finally found me a family doctor.

I suspect it will arrive in my mailbox after I'm dead.

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