We opened our doors May 1st, and people are slowly discovering that we are here, and we are here to help! One question we are getting a lot is "are we accepting patients." And one answer to that is Yes, we are! But the question means different things for different people, and therefore the answer may change. Let me explain:
In Canada, most people want to have a family doctor assigned to them. I am a family doctor. But I am not running a normal family practice, because normally, most family practices offer immunizations, they offer routine procedures such as gynecologic (including Pap screening) exams or wart removal, and they may also offer acute care services (assessing someone with a sore throat, or diarrhea, to rule out issues such as strep throat or food poisoning). Because I am the only family doctor working at the clinic, and because this clinic is funded by OHIP billings, there are insufficient resources for me to offer all services normally associated with a family medicine practice. I am the only physician (that I know) in the Ottawa area who is a Diplomate with the American Board of Lifestyle Medicine and offering lifestyle medicine (LM) services, and as such, I made the difficult decision to focus my practice on LM.
Consequently, I am taking patients, in that I want to see people who either want to prevent health issues using LM, or have issues but want to address them at least in part by using LM. However, I encourage anyone who already has a family physician, to keep them! And if someone wants to see me about LM, I do ask that they advise their family physician's office first, because in Ontario patients may be "rostered" to a doctor, so for reasons involving OHIP billing it is ideal that a conversation with their doctor occur first.
And for people who do not have a family physician, I have two thoughts. The first thought is... the spring/ summer is a great time to find a family physician, because for most family medicine residents residency ends June 30th, after which these brand new family medicine doctors are joining or starting medical practices and looking for patients! Check with local clinics, or check here for more information.
The second thought applies to people regardless of whether they have a family physician (or primary care provider) or not. Adopting LM principles preserves and where necessary, will normally improve health. So the great news about LM is that for people who decide to integrate these principles into their life, they will not need to see their physician as often. Wouldn't it be nice to see a doc for preventative screening, the odd acute issue, and not much else? And, using LM principles also allows both patient and doctor to shift focus from "managing" chronic illnesses to truly optimizing a patient's health.