Let’s declare a family-practice emergency


Times Colonist Sept 28, 2017

Chris Pengilly, formerly of Tuscany Medical Clinic, is a part-time family physician.

[Excerpt] I read with interest the op-ed from Joanne Hamilton concerning her parents who are now “orphan patients.” The responses from Vanessa Hammond and Dr. Robin Saunders suggest solutions that offer a realistic and optimistic future. (“Physician shortage is now a crisis situation,” comment, Aug. 31; “Physician shortage doesn’t have to be a crisis,” comment, Sept. 5; “Victoria’s doctors strive to improve patient care,” comment, Sept. 19.)

I am particularly sensitive to the subject of orphan patients at the moment because I retired from family practice early in 2015. After great difficulty, I found a physician to continue the care of my patients, but because of a serious medical condition she was unable to continue.
She and I spent a long time trying to find physicians in the community to undertake the care of her sickest patients.

Unfortunately, family practice and/or Victoria were insufficient to retain one young female physician who had adopted several of my orphans, so they are re-orphaned.

What we need to do now is to make the current physicians more productive, and less burdened by unnecessary paperwork and bureaucracy — until the community health centres are up and going.

These suggestions could begin to be effective by the end of this year:

• Provide each physician with a typist service, as has long been provided to hospital physicians.

• Compensate family physicians a quarter of an office-visit fee for the responsibility and time involved in repeating prescriptions of their own patients; these are more safely prescribed by the family physician who has access to the medical record, and not infrequently the patient might not need to come to the office.

• Encourage physicians to form groups of four or more doctors (which are proven to be more effective and more efficient) by offering a one-time grant to cover the cost of amalgamating and moving offices.

• Integrate and co-ordinate public-health nurses to work in close liaison within group practices.

• Eliminate, or at least simplify, the form-filling needed for a patient to access “special authority drugs.”

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