When my daughter and I moved from Peterborough to Toronto, we knew we would be facing a lot of changes. New school for her, new home, new friends… and one thing we knew was going to be an issue: we were going to lose our family health care unit.
Nikki’s early diagnosis with childhood asthma, it was important for us to be in touch with medical services, in the event of an attack. Her attacks were never so serious that we were worried about an imminent crisis. It was more that every cold turned serious with bronchiolitis or bronchitis pretty quickly and a trip to the hospital each time wasn’t overly practical.
And with everything going on in our lives, I also hadn’t bothered to see the doctor for an annual in over two years.
So the daunting search for a family doctor was going to have to start. I asked a few people, including our new pharmacist, and found a couple of names but several calls later, with voicemails left, there was no response.
There had to be a better way. In fact, there was. Health Care Connect. I had no idea it existed but when I Googled finding a family physician in Ontario, it popped right up. It’s an Ontario government initiative that will connect individuals with physicians who are taking new patients. We filled out a form online and within a matter of days, received a letter in the mail, telling us that we had been assigned a team to help us and we were to call when convenient to see which physicians were available.
I delayed calling, hoping to find someone by referral first. I had a distrust of a government run program that I assumed would refer me to whichever physician was on the list first, whether their location was convenient or not. But I had little luck on my own, so I finally called before Christmas and a friendly young man referred me to a physician who was very close by, and a woman to boot, with whom I would be more comfortable.
We made an appointment for her to see Nikki and just get a sense of her experience particularly with regards to children and asthma. Her first question was whether I had had done a baseline test on her lung capacity yet or whether I felt she was still too young. In fact, I had waited because it’s not the easiest test to get a wee one to comply with. She said she would set it up with Sick Kids – they knew how to handle it and could usually get a usable reading on the first try with kids around Nikki’s age. She warned me it would likely be a few months away and that someone would contact me. Perfect. I was thrilled: she understood. She was hired!
This was such an easy process to undergo, and quick. I could have spent hours and days on the phone trying to find someone on my own. I really have to say that if you are looking, this is definitely a useful government service!