Abdulla: Apology to Ottawa patients for our broken health-care system

It will take thousands of more family doctors and thousands of more nurses to fix this problem.

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Dear patients: I want you to have access to timely health care.

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I am trying my best. I am trying to arrange referrals with specialists but they are drowning in referrals. I am trying to get diagnostic imaging based on your needs and urgency but there is a tremendous backlog in the system.

I am doing my best to deal with your prescription changes since many medications are not covered or drug shortages mean what you need is no longer available. I rely on my pharmacist colleagues to help with renewals and corrections but they are struggling with more demands on their time and losing staff.

I am sorry you choose to go to the ER because waiting a day or two or coming after-hours is not possible for your schedules.

I know lots of family doctors retiring or reducing their practice sizes. It is not because they are selfish. They are just trying to look after their families and themselves. My staff are trying to answer all 300 to 400 calls per day in addition to greeting you and answering your questions, but there are only human. They don’t deserve rudeness or sarcasm or worse.

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My doctors and nurses are doing the best the can to run on time but every patient comes to us with more than one problem at a time, and with mental-health issues in addition.

I am trying to see you as soon as you like but I cannot work more than the 12 hours a day that I am working now to deal with inefficiencies, failures and errors in the system. I need some time on weekends and holidays to catch up on my work, and maybe rest or spend some time with my family.

I am sorry that I cannot take more patients. I am struggling with my present load. I am overwhelmed at times myself. I’m sorry you are in pain, or worried, or have many unanswered questions, or unmet expectations.

The health-care system is broken.

It will take thousands of more family doctors and thousands of more nurses to fix this problem. If only there were light at the end of the tunnel.

Sincerely, Alykhan Abdulla MD

Dr. Alykhan Abdulla, MD, FCFP, CCPE, ICD.D is a comprehensive family doctor working in Manotick; past chair of the Section of General and Family Practice of the Ontario Medical Association; and Director for Longitudinal Leadership Curriculum at the University of Ottawa Undergraduate Medical Education. Twitter: @AlykhanAbdulla

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