Need after-hours medical care? Go to Fergus.
Tuesday, February 10, 200917 Comments
I moved to Guelph in 2003 and immediately commented to my family on how many walk-in clinics existed in Guelph and how easy it was to see a doctor when needed. I moved to Toronto in 2006 and just recently came back to Guelph. I haven't needed to go to a walk-in clinic in years, so was unbenounced to the current after-hours health care crisis taking place in this otherwise fine city.
Last week, my partner desperately needed to see a doctor to get an antibiotic for her sinus infection. I drove her to the walk-in clinic on Harvard Road, only to find a closed sign on the door, in the middle of the day. Living at Quebec and Norfolk streets, I decided we'd wait until the clinic opened on Yarmouth Street that evening. When we got home, I walked over to check the opening time, only again to find a closed clinic. This time, closed for good. We had two more choices at this point. Go to the Surrey Street Clinic, which opened at 6 p.m. And hope we don't have to wait five hours, or go to the hospital emergency room and hope we're out before morning.
Obviously, we chose to try our luck with the clinic. I drove over in the afternoon to double check that the clinic still operated and make sure they open at 6 p.m. Their door indicated they were in operation and that indeed they would open at 6. Closing time? When capacity is reached.
Fearing an after-hours medically frustrated city, I thought we should arrive at the clinic no later than 5:30 p.m. I mean, who else would want to sit and wait in a hallway for 30 minutes? Wrong choice. Arriving at 5:20 p.m., we were about 12th in line. Others said they had gotten there around 4 p.m. that day. At least we were in line and would be seen.
At about 5:50 the receptionist opened the door to let everyone in, asking people to fill out the sign-up sheet before sitting down. By 5:55 the clinic had reached capacity and closed its doors for the night, before it was even scheduled to open. Anyone arriving to the clinic, thinking they were still a few minutes early, was met with a closed and locked door. There was nobody they could talk to and no other clinic to turn to.
Access to basic health care is a fundamental right that Guelph citizens are being denied, after-hours.
The day was not all bad though. My partner was able to see a doctor and receive her medication and we learned some valuable lessons from others in line at the clinic. If you can't arrive to the after-hours clinic early enough, save the time and hassle and go to a walk-in clinic in nearby Kitchener. Better yet, go to the emergency room in Fergus. The shorter-than-Guelph wait is worth the drive, especially with the cheap cost of gas.
Not long after this mini-ordeal, I stumbled across an article in the Guelph Tribune that discussed the doctor glut in Guelph. Rather surprised, I read on with interest to learn that there are in fact so many doctors in Guelph now that many of them are funding it difficult to fill the roster for their local practices. The key difference here is that if you want a family doctor your options are plentiful, but for a short unscheduled visit to a clinic you are pretty much out of luck.