B.C. family doctor shortage: Senior places ad to find care-صحيفة الصوت


When 82-year-old Michael Mort’s longtime family doctor told him last summer he was going to retire by Christmas, he gave him six months notice. But the Vancouver Island senior quickly learned that wasn’t enough time to find a new one.

“Since then, finding a doctor to replace him has not worked out,” said Mort, whose name has been in the B.C.’s health referral system now for a full year.

“We have never had a call,” said Mort’s wife Janet. “They’re supposed to assist the patients with finding connections for doctors. I talked to them again this week, and they said they had exhausted all possibilities.”

The problem became urgent last week when Michael’s pharmacy told him they could no longer provide his medications without a new prescription from a doctor.

“I started to cry right in the moment, and said, ‘I can’t get a doctor, so how am I supposed to renew his prescriptions?” Janet said.

Out of desperation, she placed an ad in Saturday’s Victoria Times Colonist newspaper that read “WANTED: BC Licensed Medical Doctor for Prescription Renewal.” The ad offered to pay “any reasonable fee” to a doctor who could write her husband’s prescriptions.

“My hope being there might be a compassionate doctor out there that says I can squeeze one more person into my practice,” said Janet. She quickly learned she was not alone in her plight to find a family doctor.

“A lot of people wrote to say they are in the same circumstance, and can we please stay in touch and if I had any success would I let them know. Lots of good ideas, lots of compassion, lots of people who care,” said Janet.

A handful of doctors replied they could help with the urgent prescriptions, but could not take a high-needs senior like Michael on as a new patient.

“There are I’m sure many, many people like me who need a doctor who need access to medical treatment, medical service that only a doctor can provide. And it’s at a crisis level, I think, for the province,” said Michael Mort.

Vancouver family physician Dr. Anna Wolak agrees.

“Seeing that ad in the paper, part of it was well, at least it’s being brought to even more light than it already is. But at the same time it’s like, ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe we have failed people this way,’” she said. .

Janet says the province needs to do more to recruit and retain family doctors, to prevent vulnerable seniors from missing out on important prescriptions and potentially life-saving primary care.

“My plea would be please help us. It’s not just seniors I’m sure, but seniors are in a very difficult position right now,” she said, adding “We are not disposable, and we deserve care.”

Previous estimates have put the number of British Columbians who do not have a primary care physician at close to one million — roughly 20 per cent of people who live in the province. 


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