NS couple thought they had won the ‘doctor’s lottery’ after years on the waiting list. Now they are at it again

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When Len and Lyn Creighton found out last year that they were linked to a family doctor in their hometown of Windsor, N.S., they felt like they had won the “doctor lottery.”

“It’s like, ‘We won!’” Lyn described. “You’re excited, like you won a real lottery.”

The couple had been on the province’s register for GPs needed for several years. That waiting list is 157,264or 15.9 percent of the population, as of April 1.

Now, eight months after meeting that new doctor, they are told the clinic is closing – and they find themselves back at the bottom of the ever-growing waiting list.

“It’s a bit frustrating and annoying to say the least. I’ve just been trying to keep a doctor in this county lately. So, unfortunately for us, after waiting several years to get on the list… we are still waiting for another doctor,” Len said.

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The family was told in July 2023 that a doctor might open a practice at the Avon Medical Clinic.

“We actually went for a meet and greet with the doctor in September and then had our first appointment in December and haven’t seen the doctor since,” Len said.

“And last week we received a letter in the mail stating that the clinic will close its practice from August 1 and that the doctor is no longer available to us.”

Not only that, the couple must – again – obtain their medical records at their own expense.

They had purchased their records for about $300 a few years ago after losing their original primary care physician, and passed them on to their new doctor. They expect that they will now eventually have to pay again for their administration, which they describe as ‘incomplete’.

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“We have been using Maple (app) for the past four years. So that data is actually not that current, because we only saw the (Windsor) doctor once. So not much more information has been put on it,” Len explains.

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“It’s just very frustrating to have to pay all that money for incomplete medical records.”

Both Len and Lyn have diabetes and require regular medications, blood tests and follow-ups, for which they use the Maple app. They say that while the virtual appointments have been a good option, they prefer a doctor who can track their medical history.

In Lyn’s case, her primary care physician had been caring for her since she was four years old, and was also the pediatrician. That doctor retired ten years ago, and she has been searching ever since.

“It was the whole family history thing, he knew everything about my family. He treated my mother, my sister. So he had the whole thing and it was never an issue, or never even thought about like, “Oh no, you won’t have a doctor later.” That was never a concern.”

The couple is speaking out because they want to know what the province is doing to retain general practitioners and improve the situation.

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“You never have to worry about having a doctor or having somewhere to go if you have a medical problem,” says Lyn.

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“What will happen as we get older and our province gets older?”

“There is still more work to be done,” the province says

In a statement to Global News, the Ministry of Health and Human Services said it knows there is “more work to be done, but we are moving in the right direction and our focus has not wavered.”

The department has confirmed that a registrant in the Need a Family Practice Registry cannot return to the list “with the original application date if it has been more than six months since it was posted.”

In Creighton’s situation, they’ve been off the list all this time, so they’ll have to put their names back on the registry and start all over again.

“We understand that losing a primary care physician can be a concerning situation, but we want to assure everyone that Nova Scotians have more access points to receive care than ever before,” the statement said.

“Specifically in the Windsor region, there are several in-person options to receive primary care, such as the Hants Health and Wellness team, a primary care community pharmacy, four additional pharmacies and a diabetes center.”

The department also said that work is “continuing” to add new resources to the area and that more information will be shared later this year.

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As for what the province is doing to recruit and retain health care workers, the department says it’s also a work in progress.

“(This includes) the recent agreement signed between the province and (Doctors Nova Scotia) that amounts to an increase of approximately 16.5% over four years, which provides for health and dental benefits, subsidies for electronic health records , funded locum coverage and continued funding of medical education. ”

The Creightons, however, remained concerned.

Not only do they have no primary care physician, but also Len’s mother, who has stage 4 cancer.

“This is the reward of retirement. This is the reward of growing old in this province. I can’t accept that,” Len said.

“It seems like there are no solutions. It seems like band-aids are being applied to major problems.”

&copy 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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