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More than 6,000 people in Kings and Annapolis counties don’t have family doctors - meet some of them

Deanna Doyle
Deanna Doyle - Submitted

Deanna Doyle, North Alton

Where is your family doctor located? Kentville.

Why are you now/soon to be without a family physician?  My family doctor is retiring.

How long had you been seeing this doctor?  Except for a few years when I was younger, I have been a patient of my doctor for most of my 43 years.

Are you on the provincial 811 list for patients seeking a new family practice? Yes.

Do other members of your nuclear family now need a new doctor as well? My son, mother and father will now also need a doctor. My father has already lost his doctor and became a patient of my doctor a few years back.

How will this doctor shortage issue impact your family? Less than six months ago, I was diagnosed with diabetes. I am just starting to get ahold of what that entails, and trying to get my sugars down to an acceptable level. I am going to lose the ability to have them checked every so many months with bloodwork and gone over with a doctor who knows my history. Their office provided wonderful support and information, and I will miss that support system. My son has ADHD and requires a restricted prescription, which can only be written every three months. My prescription can be given with refills for up to a year, but his have to be renewed every three months. And because they are restricted, I won't be able to get them from just any doctor. I was told by my doctor I would have to go to the E.R. to get them or try a walk-in clinic. There is a chance I may be able to get him in to see a pediatrician, but nothing has been set up at this time.

What are your primary concerns? That I will not be able to access medication for myself and my son, and I will not be able to keep track of how well I am handling my diabetes. My son went from (having) an absolute terrible school year before medication to one where he is finally on par with his schoolmates and able to interact better socially. I would hate for him to have to backtrack because we cannot access a doctor.

Shirley Peck, Kingston:

Shirley Peck
Shirley Peck

Where was your partner’s family doctor located? Kingston.
Why is he now without a family physician? His doctor retired like so many others and (was) not replaced.
Is he on the provincial 811 list for patients seeking a new family practice? Yes, but calling them is a nightmare.
What's it like to suddenly go from having a family doctor, to waiting to be placed with a new practice? It’s very scary and unsettling. Going from someone who has been in your life the last 57 years, knowing you could trust him, and then, all of a sudden, you have nobody is a very scary thing. And this past month, my fiancé has needed to go see a doctor for something that was a pressing matter and we had to go to New Minas to the clinic and wait and, although they were good there, it's not the same when you don't have your own family doctor. This province is in dire (need) of (more doctors).
What are your primary concerns? I pray something will be done for this shortage. Unless people are without a doctor, they can't feel the effects. My fiancée is stressed about this and he has been since he found out his doctor was leaving last September. It breaks my heart to see how life changes and they don't replace doctors as they should. I am the lucky one right now as I do have a doctor. I may have to travel to Annapolis to get to him, but I've had him in my life for almost 40 years and I couldn't imagine not having my own doctor to go to.

Stephen Steele
Stephen Steele

Stephen Steele, Kentville

Where did your doctor practice? Kentville Professional Centre
How long have you been without a family physician? About a year.
Are you registered on the provincial 811 list? No.
How does the doctor shortage impact you? The woman that pulled me from my mother has been my family doctor until this year. The knowledge and experience that woman had watching me grow up is gone. I've had the same medication for my entire life. I needed more, I went to the clinic and the doctor attempted to argue with me. Basically, I wanted that doctor to… give me the same thing I've been using for 20 years He declined and suggested alternatives. I was not interested… so now I do not have the medication and likely will encounter the same issues in the future. This doctor… felt the need to try to fix what wasn't broken.

Vanessa MacNeil, Aylesford

Vanessa MacNeil and her family.
Vanessa MacNeil and her family.

How long have you been in Kings County? We moved here in the summer of 2015 when my husband was posted to 14 Wing Greenwood.
Where was your family practice prior to your move? Previously, I'd had a family doctor in Pictou County, but she retired in late 2014.
Why are you now without a family physician? I've been told there are none accepting patients in the area. Before my husband's posting, I elected not to go on the list in Pictou County because I knew I'd soon be leaving the area; I anticipated an out-of-province move.
How long have you been without a family doctor? It's coming on four years since I've had a family doctor.
Are you on the provincial 811 list for patients seeking a new family practice? I am on the list. When my husband received his posting message for the Valley in April of 2015, almost two months before we made the move, I called and had my name put on the list. I figured there would be some wait involved, so I was trying to be proactive. At that time, I was told that there were two new doctors who were opening a practice in the area, and that I would probably get on with one of them. I guess I was further down the list than they thought, because I was never contacted.
Do other members of your nuclear family now need a new doctor as well? My husband is fortunate in that all of his needs are seen to, but (neither) I, nor my infant son, have a family doctor.
How has not having a family doctor impacted you/your family? It's stressful to not have a doctor. My nurse practitioner is lovely, but there are things that she can't do for us. When I was pregnant and diagnosed with gestational diabetes, my insurance would not accept a letter from her to state that the pen needles for my insulin were medically necessary; I had to have a letter from a medical doctor before they would consider covering the delivery method for my insulin (which was covered without question, as were the testing supplies).

Read more about the family doctor crisis in Kings, Annapolis counties:

• ‘We shouldn’t have to wonder’: Doctor shortage hits home for Annapolis Valley

• Wolfville doctor on the front lines of physician shortage worried about broken system

• Pharmacists ‘willing and able to help’ with doctor shortage stress

• A nursing perspective

• ‘Recruitment mode for years to come’

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