Paul Huras is the executive director of the Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) which controls funding for 126 health groups in Eastern Ontario. He admits that there is a chronic shortage of doctors in the area, and offers this advice to people who live out here and don't have a doctor:
1. Contact the department of family medicine at Queen's University in Kingston - they may know of some recent graduates who have set up in the Quinte area and are accepting patients.
2. Call local doctors, of which there are about 75 in the Hastings-Prince Edward counties area. Sometimes a doctor will be able to take four or five patients but does not advertise the fact because the office would get hundreds of telephone calls.
3. Write to local family doctors, explaining "anticipated health-care" needs. This method was used by a person new to the area as an employee of the South East LHIN office in Belleville and it worked, Huras said.
4. Go to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario website, where there is a listing of family doctors and whether they are taking on new patients.
It's hard not to laugh when I read this list. Canadians smugly defend their health-care system as a model that the rest of the world (specifically the US) should emulate, but we have health service in Eastern Ontario on a level with parts of the Third World, and you have to beg to be taken on by a local physician. When I moved out here from Toronto, I waited six years to get on a local physician's caseload, and that was only after I assured her that I was in excellent health and was unlikely to use her services very often. It is not uncommon for patients here to be chosen by lottery when a new physician moves to the area.
Michael Moore should have brought his Sicko film crew out to Belleville for a real snapshot of health care in Canada.