Saturday, January 10, 2009

Who needs a Family Doctor?

I still have a family doctor in the Big City. Unfortunately, I now live and go to school in the Little City and there's a shortage of family doctors. Every once in a while, I check to see if any physicians in the Little City are accepting patients. They never are.

The Little City has a couple of Urgent Care Clinics, that are supposed to take the load off of the Little City Emergency Departments. They were originally intended for urgent problems that didn't quite fall into the Emergency category. Now they're used by people who don't have and can't get a family doctor. I've been dreading the day that I would finally have to see a doctor in the Little City. Lots of people in the Little City don't have Family Doctors, so I naturally assumed that going to an Urgent Care Clinic would involve a lot of waiting around with a bunch of sick people coughing all over me.

I had to get the 3rd, and final dose, of a Hepatitis B vaccine yesterday so I went to one of the Urgent Care Clinics. I wasn't expecting it to be a pleasant experience. I was pleasantly surprised.
The clinic is in a building that also has a pharmacy, lab and XRay/Ultrasound place in it. As I walked into the front door of the building, I found myself in a waiting room that was shared by the clinic, a pharmacy, a lab and an Xray/Ultrasound place. Half of the chairs in the waiting room were empty. I was slightly encouraged. I walked into the pharmacy and gave them my prescription receipt for my vaccine. I was expecting a hassle because I was giving them a receipt from a pharmacy in the Big City. "No problem", said the pharmacist, "I'll just have to get the Big City pharmacy to fax something to me." I was wondering if I should register at the clinic, while I was waiting for my script to be filled, and was told that they're seeing people too fast for that to be a good idea. I was told to wait for the script and then register at the clinic. Getting the script only took about 20 minute.

After I got my script I was talking to a doctor in about 15 minutes. I talked with him about getting a blood titre for Hep. B antibodies. He gave me a slip for the required blood work and told me to go to the lab with it, in a couple of weeks. He asked me if it was OK for the injection to be done by the nurse and I of course said yes. The nurse grabbed me a few minutes later, gave me the injection and sent me on my way.

I really was impressed by the whole experience at that clinic, even though they charged me an extra $50 to get the injection done. FYI for non Canadians: Canadians general don't have to pay for medical stuff, because we have a government funded national health care system. That $50 fee might even have been "sort of" illegal.

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