Letters: Too long of a wait

Sooke resident waits more than six years for a family doctor

Just over six years ago I moved from Calgary to Sooke. The area is unmatched in it’s beauty and gave me the opportunity to live a lifestyle that I only dreamed about. I was also attracted to this area because of the mindset of the local people, the possibility of owning a few acres in the wilderness and the overall opportunity to live a healthy lifestyle. My girlfriend and I were able to purchase a small acreage in Otter Point where we’ve lived for the past four and a half years.

When I first relocated here I was visited by the local Welcome Wagon and was informed of the local attractions and amenities. When I enquired about the availability of medical professionals she gave me information regarding eye doctors, dentists, veterinarians and family doctors. Within a week of my arrival I had found an eye doctor, a dentist, a vet  and I visited the clinic and had my name placed on the waiting list. I was told I would have to wait a couple of years before I could expect to get a doctor.

After a number of years I decided to visit the clinic once again to enquire about the wait list. The receptionist asked me how long I had been waiting and I told her over six years. To my astonishment she told me that my name wasn’t on the list. I was told the doctors reserve the right to pick and choose which patients they will take. Shouldn’t people be assigned doctors on a first come first served basis? So much for “…one of the five criteria of the CHA guiding the provincial public health insurance plans…  Accessibility – All residents must have access to insured health care services on uniform terms and conditions without direct or indirect financial charges, or discrimination based on age, health status or financial circumstances…” This is a direct quote from the Canadian Health Act. Apparently, we here in this region are exempt from equal timely access to medical treatment.

One question I have for the people who decide who gets a doctor is this; how can they tell me that there are other people with more dire medical problems than me? In six years I`ve only had one physical examination.

Of the health challenges I`ve encountered over the past six years I believe all of them could have been treated in the early stages which would have resulted in better outcomes for me and less financial burden on the health care system. Am I supposed to wait until I have a stroke or heart attack before I am deemed worthy of regular medical care?

I’ve lived in Quebec, Ontario and Alberta before relocating to Sooke and never had to wait to find a family doctor. All of those provinces have fiscal challenges associated with their health care systems but all find the means to provide doctors to their citizens. Why can’t we do the same in B.C.? One of the challenges identified by the federal and provincial healthcare systems is the need to reduce wait times to see a specialist to treat or diagnose life threatening conditions. Not being able to consult a family doctor contributes to the unacceptable wait times people encounter when trying to deal with their life threatening conditions.

We are very conscious of how we live and try to do what’s right when it comes to preventing illness. When I do go to a doctor it’s because I’ve exhausted all other options and I’m getting desperate.   We need to be given the tools to be able to make informed decisions regarding our health and having a family doctor provides a large piece of the puzzle. Without regular assessments we can only guess at what we need to do to maintain the health we currently enjoy. Frustrated and desperate,

Paul Rudge

Sooke