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07/08/2021

When are family docs supposed to find the time to reach out to the unvaccinated?

OK, I will be the first to say what I believe family doctors are worried about.

I work 10 hour days. I often triage 20 patients who need appointments everyday with an office that already has 13 or 14 patients scheduled. I have not had a significant pay increase in over a decade . . . yeah, yeah, yeah. Fat cats, right? I make less than a dentist, a lawyer, senior police officers and firefighters, established optometrists and physiotherapists after expenses.

The powers that be would like to ignore my overhead costs when making decisions about how much more work they will ask me to do or how much they will pay in added income as my overhead expenses skyrocket. I pay over $300,000 a year in expenses. My nurse practitioner makes just a bit less than I do when all is said and done.

Let's stop hiding the truth about the state of family practise in this province. I cannot take on more responsibilities without the ability to hire more administrative and nursing staff. I am happy to take on COVID-19. I am happy to call all of my patients who have not received a vaccine. I am happy to provide testing for COVID-19 once the testing centres close and I am happy to provide COVID-19 booster shots in the future if they are needed. I cannot work 16 hour days and I definitely cannot work for less. It is barely manageable now. If this province wants family doctors to take on these vital tasks . . . we will need the appropriate financial support to hire the teams of people needed to assist us.

COVID testing centres and mass vaccination clinics will close. That is good news. Insist that the vast healthcare infrastructure that needs to be built in order to continue the fight against COVID-19 does not become the responsibility of the family doctor without the necessary supports.The risk we take is that many, many of us will no longer be able to continue practising medicine.

Dr. Anne-Marie Zajdlik is a family physician from Guelph, Ont. 

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