When COVID-19 struck, we acted quickly in the interest of safety to shut down our laboratory, and clinic while offering virtual visits for our patients in an effort to maintain continuity so that patients were well cared for. In addition to this, I personally spent countless hours reviewing policies and practices on behalf of the Ministry of Health so that Ontario’s clinicians were as prepared as possible to fight COVID-19. I did this while taking time away from my family, providing on call coverage for respiratory patients at our local hospital and incurring significant personal health risk to myself given the shortages of PPE that we’ve been embattled with.
I, like so many of Ontario’s doctors, acted with our patients and our communities' health in mind first and foremost. We stopped the majority of our clinic & laboratory services with unavoidable employee layoffs. It has been devastating for our clinic given the financial losses that we’ve incurred. Only the most urgent and essential virtual visits have been maintained, but now, even that is starting to be a struggle.
It has been a demoralizing experience to now know that our provincial government has decided to delay funding for services already provided for at least three months. Concerns have also arisen as to whether funding for some of these services will actually be withheld, which threatens to further erode the financial disarray we are facing. To have to deal with this, while questioning whether I have enough PPE when on call is evoking real legitimate fears as to what the collective future for myself, my clinic, and my patients look like.
I foolishly believed our Premier and health minister when they initially said they are doing “everything” to look after our frontline healthcare workers. Now, I know the truth and it could not be clearer. I feel betrayed and completely devalued. They’ve turned their backs on doctors, plain and simple. We are expected to take unreasonable personal risks while simultaneously fund the healthcare costs for this pandemic. Their position and lack of action on this is unjust and intolerable. If left unchanged, patients, clinics, employees and physicians will suffer immensely. Closures will be inevitable. Patients will be doctorless. Healthcare will plummet.Why would anyone sign up for this?