Sunday, May 23, 2010

Walk in Clinic in Simcoe to close its doors, negatively impacting migrant farm workers

From the Simcoe Reformer, Ontario, Canada

NB: Migrant workers in the region are once again being dismissed in the communities in which they live and work. Notice Dr. Hynscht's racist comments on having to look after "that"...

Closure will impact NGH
Posted 4 days ago

Wait times in the emergency department at Norfolk General Hospital are expected to climb dramatically once the walk-in clinic on West Street in Simcoe closes July 1.

Bill Lewis, president and CEO of NGH, will discuss the situation with the Ministry of Health and the Hamilton-Niagara- Haldimand-Brant Local Health Integration Network later this summer. Before he does so, Lewis will collect statistics on how much the closure has increased the hospital's workload.

"It's not a question of whether there will be an increase," Lewis said Tuesday. "It's a matter of how much."

The closure of the walk-in clinic came as a shock to those who rely on it. However, the move has been months in the planning.

Dr. Harold Hynscht, a physician at the clinic, says the Ministry of Health wants to do away with walk-in clinics because they are expensive and ineffective.

"It's good money to work in them," Hynscht said Tuesday. "But it's bad medicine. It's episodic and it's inconsistent. There is no comprehensive care."

It's not unusual for an attending physician to see 100 patients in an evening. Hynscht said a doctor cannot perform sound medicine under these conditions. He said local physicians are aging and increasingly unwilling to manage the high volume of traffic that comes through the office. Those doctors who continue to serve are burning out.

Hynscht added that the majority of people coming to the walk-in clinic are from outside Norfolk. Many are so sick that they are referred immediately to NGH.

The clinic's closure will create a health-care deficit in the local area for farmers who rely on off - shore labour. In recent years, offshore workers have become an increasing part of the clinic's workload.

"That's why I don't want to work there anymore," Hynscht said. "It's awful. It used to be only one or two would come through. But now they just drive the bus up on a Friday night. Frankly, that off ends me. Why should I have to look after that? Emergency at NGH is going to be a nightmare. But hey, it's not my problem."

Hynscht said wait times in the emergency ward at NGH could triple once the walk-in clinic closes.

As an alternative to walk-in clinics, the Ministry of Health is encouraging doctors

to organize themselves into Family Health Organizations (FHO). The FHO that will replace the walk-in clinic in Simcoe will be comprised of Dr. Hynscht, Dr. Bonnie Edwards, Dr. Mark Ghesquiere, Dr. John Hall, Dr. Mark Miller, Dr. Jeff Tschirhart, Dr. Gary Weber, Dr. Peter Wong and Dr. William Wynveen. Only registered patients of these doctors will continue to enjoy after-hours service at the West Street clinic.

FHO's differ substantially from the status quo because the province will pay participating physicians a salary (capitation) , not on a fee-for-service basis. The province believes this will lead to better health care while helping contain costs.

Hall believes the demise of walk-in clinics will lead to better health care in the long run. He said people must make the effort to sign up with a doctor and think twice about making demands on the system for comparatively minor complaints.

"They tend to be utilized by people who have physicians but who, for whatever reason, can't get in to see them or haven't even tried." Hall said.

Monte Sonnenberg 519-426-3528 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 519-426-3528 end_of_the_skype_highlighting ext. 150

msonnenberg@ bowesnet. com

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