Without a family doctor?  Doctors offer some short-term solutions

Without a family doctor? Doctors offer some short-term solutions

Dosage28:10How can I take charge of my health without a family doctor?

Millions of Canadians are without a family doctor or primary care provider. Dr. Peter Lynn, family physician and director of the Canadian Center for Heart Research, explains the ways people can take responsibility for their health when they are in a setting or are looking for a primary care provider.

Millions of Canadians are without a family doctorand with Long waits at ERs And the Admission ClinicsMany people wonder where they can get the care they need.

So how can people be sure to take care of their health when they don’t have a regular primary care provider?

There is no single answer, because individual health needs are complex and can vary based on factors such as age, family history, and any existing chronic diseases. The first tip is not to give up on finding a family doctor, as many doctors agree that people should have a family doctor or primary care provider.

“We need this continuity of care to make sure you don’t get into trouble,” Dr. Peter Lane, MD, a family physician in Toronto and director of the Canadian Center for Heart Research, told Dr. Brian Goldman. Dosage.

“Family Physicians… Primary Care [providers]the practicing nurses … are really good at recognizing patterns to try to figure out what’s going on and put the pieces together.”

Family doctors say there are some ways that people can take care of themselves in the short term, but that they should continue to look for a primary care provider.

“Even if you are healthy, you should look for a family doctor, because you never know when you will get sick,” said Dr. Yvette Lo, a community family physician who works in Surrey, British Columbia.

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How do I find a family doctor who accepts patients?

Doctors say there are several ways to find a family doctor, as the process can vary from county to county.

Lynn suggests that people start by asking family or friends if their doctor is accepting new patients.

If that’s not an option, he suggests looking for clinics and doctor groups that are still accepting new patients on the site of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of their province or territory or other regulatory body.

Depending on where you live, there may be specific services available to find a family doctor.

For example, in British Columbia – a province where Nearly a million people do not have a family doctor – Location Medical Pathways Guide Lu said it is an option to help find a provider.

In Ontario, residents can sign up for Health Care Connect, a service that connects someone to a nurse who will “look for a doctor or nurse practitioner who will accept new patients in your community,” according to the County website.

Lu says the regional health line in many provinces — call 811 in British Columbia and Alberta — can also help people access services in their community.

Sometimes, she said, specialists can also recommend a doctor willing to take you as a patient.

Don’t forget to ask if a local clinic has a waiting list, Lu said.

“It’s important to remember that sometimes spots open up because people walk away or quit practice for other reasons,” she said. “So even if a clinic is closed, it’s worth checking back every now and then to see if they’re accepting new patients.”

When should I go to the emergency room if I don’t have a family doctor?

If there’s a medical emergency, such as difficulty breathing, chest pain, or heavy bleeding, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room, advises Dr. Rita McCracken, a family physician and assistant professor at the University of British Columbia. Family practice section.

If in the past three to six months you have had problems such as unintended weight loss of more than 10 pounds, severe night sweats, blood in stool or urine or a lump in the breast, she advises you to see a doctor within two months. weeks.

Most provinces and territories have a 24/7 service that connects people with a nurse or other qualified professional to provide advice on health issues and health information.

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What about receipts or urgent primary care centers?

Lane said that depending on where someone lives, clinics or primary care centers may also be options.

People are advised to be prepared when visiting a clinic by getting a list of new medications, diseases, or diagnoses, and new symptoms. He said he could help the doctor.

“They try to make decisions quickly, and to do that, it’s best to be able to provide all the information to them right away,” Lin said.

In some counties, community health centers are also an option. There are also virtual clinics, McCracken said.

“Although waiting times can be significant in some areas, you can enter,” she said.

A medical clinic is visited in Cobequid, NS. When patients visit inpatient clinics, doctors advise them to bring a list of their medications as well as any recent illnesses or diagnoses and new symptoms. (Angolan Patel/CBC)

How can I stay healthy without a family doctor?

There are ways that people can take charge of their health while looking for a family doctor.

McCracken’s most important suggestion is to keep up with vaccinations, whether it’s routine vaccinations like the flu shot or the COVID-19 vaccines.

“As far as I know, you can get vaccinations everywhere in Canada in an alternative way besides your family doctor. Either through public health or through pharmacies,” she said.

She also recommends people wash their hands and wear a mask around sick people and says more practical advice can help people stay healthy.

“All the things our mothers and grandmothers tell us: stay hydrated, wear a seat belt, floss, don’t drink too much alcohol or smoke other things, get enough sleep, make more friends, have a hobby. All of these things are tied into the The reality is with better health outcomes,” she said.

Lane said quitting smoking, controlling your weight and eating healthy are also important factors in your health.

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How can I undergo a routine examination?

Depending on your age, there are recommended routine screening tests that you can complete.

If you have a cervix, McCracken said, it’s essential to have a Pap test every three years if you don’t have any symptoms. She said that in British Columbia, you don’t need a family doctor to get the test.

Lynn realizes that it can be difficult to get these routine tests done without a primary care provider. He suggests visiting an outpatient clinic to help get a referral.

“This is where you, as the person in charge of your health, will have to figure out what screening tests you need to do because you don’t have a family doctor kind of quarterback,” he said, noting that organizations For specific types of cancers and diseases, websites often have websites that explain when people should be screened.

Some counties also have self-referrals for some cancer screening tests. Lynn recommends calling your county cancer care agency to find out.

He also recommends checking your blood pressure regularly at a local pharmacy and keeping track of the results.

If people turn to outpatient clinics for follow-up care, Law suggests going to the same clinics each time as doctors often work regular shifts in those clinics.

“If you go to the same clinic or urgent care clinic, they will have your records so it’s easier for the doctor who sees you to take care of you,” she said.

What about medical records?

Lin said it’s important for patients to have copies of their test results or other health records, ideally in digital form. Lu agrees that this can help doctors better understand the patient’s medical history.

“If you end up going to different clinics, you will still have a copy of, say, the ultrasound you had,” she said, adding that sometimes these tests also advise patients to follow up in six months or a year.

She says patients can write down this follow-up date by scheduling it in their phones or calendars.

“Don’t count on the doctor to call you,” she said.

McCracken’s advice for parting with those who do not have a family doctor is to send a letter to their political representatives.

“If you really want to change it, put your story on paper and send it to your provincial and federal MP, and ask us to secure funding and evidence-based solutions to tackle the primary care crisis once and for all.”

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