Canadian Healthcare NEVER Improves

Once again, I’ve been thrown to the wolves of the coveted-by-outsiders medical system in the province of Quebec. Perhaps Canada overall is not so bad, but Montreal in Quebec has got to be the most horrid System only slightly above Third World countries. Any of you who’ve read my oldest posts on this blog will recall the twists and turns of trying to receive appropriate medical attention. Now, although it is unrelated to the visual disability and migraines I often blog about, I’m stuck without treatment and referrals once again.

So you finally have a family doctor after that three-year wait as patients died before you got bumped up in the queue. I hope he or she is a good doctor, because that’s who you’ll now be stuck with. Chances are, you won’t have a much easier time making an appointment in a timely manner. Hate answering machines? Get ready to talk to the voice mail void of Hell. Get ready to be on hold for stupid long amounts of time while secretaries deal with 10 other patients they already have on hold. Best of all, prepare for your appointment, which will be reserved for 2 years from now.

Free healthcare? Well, you get what you pay for.

So, since ‘family doctor’ has c@ckblocked me, I decided to visit my regionally-designated walk-in clinic (for those of you in Montreal – that would be the CLSC). If you want to speak to a nurse, this is still a viable option. Unfortunately, I require an exam. This necessitates an actual doctor. Up til about a year ago, it was normal procedure to arrive at the clinic before opening hours (7am), to put your name on the waiting list to be seen beginning at 9am when the place officially opens. Doctors were assigned til around noon, at which time remaining patients needed to continue waiting until 1pm. By 2pm, if a doctor had still not seen you, you would be told to come back the following day. Ridiculous, yes……….

But it gets more ridiculous the more you attempt to cure your illnesses by trusting these people.

So now, I’m told We no longer do that. If you want a doctor and your FAMILY DOCTOR doesn’t work here, you need to go to one of these other clinics. I’m handed a sheet of paper with a list of nearby clinics, and at the top of the page it states that these are former CLSC-branded facilities. Quickly scanning through the list, I see that several do NOT even accept new patients or patients without referrals.

I easily narrow the list down to about 5 potential places I should try. One was overbooked. Another looked shady, and like they’d rented out the vestibule of an office to house both waiting room, reception and apparently, play area for children to get underfoot where people queue to speak to the receptionist. Everybody is either hack coughing, snorting their mucus back into their nasal cavity, or wearing a mask. I’m not a germophobe, but standing there for more than 15 minutes would have started to transform me. The doctor on duty appears with a patient. I think, hmm that patient seems a little raggedy, and possibly homeless. It turns out that I’d misidentified patient and doctor. The patient was in fact well put together, while the physician was the unshaven, unruly, shabbily dressed SLOB not even wearing a nametag or uniform to identify him as a person who instills trust and safety.

It freaked me out and the only polite way I could think of to try and avoid getting seen by this particular staff member (since it’s random according to who is free when your turn comes up), was to avoid all male staff (sorry, boys it’s not personal) and ask if there were any female doctors on hand. This is usually a fair request from a female patient without starting any flame wars about preferential selection, prejudice, sexism, etc. There were no female doctors on staff, which kinda surprised me considering the amount of pregnant women and majoritarily (that’s not a word, is it?) female patients waiting to be seen. Yes, of course, many people could care less what gender their doctor is, but to just not have the option available when you run a clinic that deals with obstetrics and gynecology is just….not very 2018. Add to that, religious views, cultural differences, and the amount of hijab-wearing patients I saw….again, I’m flabbergasted.

Eventually I was down to one last potential clinic. A walk-in place that specified the exact specialty doctor I needed (and never expected I’d find, so I was resolved to seeing a GP). Right on that silly piece of paper, it stated no referrals needed. This time I called ahead of time to ask what should never be needed to ask (if taking into account the confirmation in black and white).

You need a referral, ma’am.

Oh EFF YOU okay.

 

And then I remembered a clinic recommended by a Facebook friend about a year prior. I hadn’t needed the service at the time, but was suddenly so glad I’d thought to screencap the details and never erase them from my cellphone. Once again, I decided last minute to phone before trekking out of my way, as the clinic was a bit further into town. But alas, they only accept email communication. So okay, I email them quoting their website, which said that if you did not have a referral that they would assist in finding one.

My email reply said something to the effect of Oh no, dear we do not do that. You need to go to a walk-in clinic.

Wait. You ARE a walk-in clinic just like all the others I’ve been trying. What in the world is this conspiracy? And you LIE on your website about helping people obtain the needed referrals.

And like that, my options have been exhausted. Monday morning I will contact my family doctor, do the whole voicemail tango, and be slapped with the news that Doc is on yet another maternity leave, and that no patients will be seen until 2019. But hey, let us pencil you in anyway. Not that your ailment is at all urgent and you won’t lose limb or bleed through your skull by then.

 

I love Montreal. Why does anybody question why I was glad to leave for 8 months in 2016. And (healthy) people wonder why the sick and the disabled are often grouchy and depressed.

 

(FYI, the header photo (the entrance to Fushimi Inari shrine in Kyoto, Japan) is to give myself a visual of my happy place. ‘Cause that ain’t here.)

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