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Family physicians reach out

Many Haut-Saint-Laurent residents benefited from the opportunity to sign up with a family doctor on a Saturday.


Publié le 22 juin 2017

Left to right: Dr.Catherine Longpré, Dr. Benjamin Phaneuf, Janick Parent réceptionniste, and Dr. Catherine Belanger.

©Catherine Belanger

As part of a larger initiative throughout Quebec’s southwestern region, the Ormstown Medical Center opened its doors on Saturday June 17th to assign new patients from the centralized waiting list with family doctors.

As Haut-Saint-Laurent residents know, without enough practitioners to service the area’s needs, the waiting list for a family doctor is long.

A challenging aspect of the current system is that each family member must have a preliminary appointment with a family doctor in order to become his or her patient. For many healthy families seeking care, it’s not realistic for them to take time off for such an appointment that they don’t really need. In response, the collective effort of a Saturday sign up was a way for families to be seen without taking precious time away from work and school.

Dr. Catherine Belanger of the Ormstown Medical Center remarked that a family she was signing up that day had been on the list for over five years. “This day is a symbolic gesture to show people that we’re on their side. We do want to sign them up, but the FMRQ (Fédération des médecins résidents du Québec) feels that for healthy people to take a day off work is nonsensical. We also want to show the government that we want to sign up new patients, but taking an appointment away from an existing patient with health problems doesn’t make sense.”

At Ormstown Medical Center there are 14 doctors who service the clinic, with newer doctors like Belanger herself rotating between shifts in emergency and in the hospital. She explains: “With retiring doctors and those looking to retire, we are not enough. Some doctors have as many as 1,500 patients already. As a family doctor, the relationship with our patients is central. I enjoy being a family doctor and we want to let the public know that we are here for them and we are doing what we can.”

Dr. Belanger was one of three doctors signing up new patients in Ormstown on Saturday. She herself took on 11 appointments and the collective effort was to vacate 250 patients from the centralized waiting list. The other participating regional medical centers included:  

§  The Trois-Lacs GMF, Vaudreuil-Dorion

§  GMF Pincourt-Rigaud

§  GMF Vaudreuil-Soulanges (CLSC)

§  GMF Vaudreuil-Dorion

§  GMF Lac Saint-François (Havre-Santé -Salaberry-de-Valleyfield)

§  GMF Medical Clinic Mercier

§  UMF Jardins-Roussillon (Châteauguay)

§  GMF Carrefour Santé The Saint-Laurent, Sainte-Catherine

§  Medical Clinic Les Jardins de Châteauguay

§  Clinique Saint-Pierre, Saint-Constant