Health Care confusion

Over the last week or so, daughter number 1 hasn’t been herself. Actually neither has the youngest to be honest.

My eldest daughter’s illness has taught me a few new things about the red tape around health care, at least here in my neighbourhood. When she started feeling poorly, of course we called our family doctor to make an appointment. He was booked fully during the week we called, so we had to book an appointment for the following week.  Normally this seems acceptable, but when you work shifts, and you don’t know when you’re schedule is, it’s a pretty big gamble if you’ll actually be available when your appointment is booked.

The next gamble is requesting either a morning or an afternoon off at work for the appointment and have it actually stick when the schedule is posted. I’m happy she’s working, but I do think the management at her store could pay a bit more attention to the needs of employees. I digress.

By the time we called for a reschedule, our family doctor was heading off on two week’s vacation. However, due to their office policies, you can only book an appointment for up to five days in advance, so there was no option to book an appointment for his return. (Funny, that policy didn’t seem to apply to them when they book you into the following week, it only applies to patients calling in requesting appointments further in advance).

In the interim, my daughter’s health took bit of a turn, so I took her to our walk in clinic. The clinic doctor, a lovely woman, ordered some blood tests to screen for a few things, including an underactive thyroid, and to check her iron levels. (She has very low iron, but it’s improving – this is one of her symptoms).When we started discussing the potential of celiac disease, the clinic doctor mentioned that family doctor’s can’t order a test for that.

After she spoke about a few other options, I asked her “did you say a family doctor can’t order the tests for celiac?” and she confirmed that I heard her right. “Who does then?”, I asked. Apparently only a Gastro-Intestine specialist can order it, and have OHIP cover it.

Naturally this triggered the Mom-rant. My daughter would have to wait for our family doctor to return, then make an appointment: add 10 days. Then she would have to be referred to a GI specialist and get an appointment to see them: add any number of days, could be 60, could be 90, could be 7. Then she could get a stupid test, meanwhile her health continues to deterioriate?

The clinic doctor again confirmed my assumptions. She then added, “for some reason, if I order it, OHIP doesn’t cover it, if a GI orders it, it’s free.” My lightbulb went off.

I asked “is the only thing standing between my daughter and a blood test for celiac today my visa card?” and she said “yes.” Of course I said “order it today.”

This brief encounter over a few hours with our Medical Center reminded me of how easy it is for a person to fall between the cracks, or at least, to think they’re going mad. Take a young adult, who isn’t herself, and is already feeling disoriented and confused. Then tell her the clinic doctor can’t test her for something, and suggest she wait for any number of days/months before she can be tested. In other words, suck it up buttercup, we have rules. Wouldn’t it have been better to say “we can do this and this test, but there’s a fee, or if you wish, you can wait to be referred to a GI.”

Thankfully, we’ve heard back from the clinic and her thyroid is fine, and her iron, while still too low, is improving over her last test. The celiac test will be outstanding for another week, we knew that in advance.  As my daughter was finishing hearing the results by phone with the clinic doctor’s office, they said “I’ll transfer you to your family doctor so you can make a follow-up appointment.”

That’d be nice, but it’s still not five days away from his return to the office. We’ll call back later.


One response to this post.

  1. I don’t understand family doctors that don’t have last minute available appointments each day. In fact, my doctor has recently switched to a ratio of 30/60 appointment bookings. 30% of her appointments can be pre-booked, leaving 60% free for same day bookings. So far it seems to be working well. Last week I called at 9:30am and had an appointment for my daughter at 2:10. Today I called at 9am and had an appointment for 10:20. My husband’s doctor works under a similar practice. He rarely needs an appointment without getting it book on the same day he calls.

    As for the celiac’s bloodtest, my husband got his requistition from a GI specialist and we were told he would have to pay for the bloodwork unless he had it done at a specific hospital. Very strange! He never had it done.

    I hope your girls are feeling healthy again soon.


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