The shortage of doctors in Kingston was the main topic at Tuesday’s roundtable discussion hosted by Andrea Horwath at the Kingston Community Health Centre.
Families who had reached out to Kingston and the Islands MPP Ian Arthur were invited to the discussion to share their concerns about healthcare.
“I have been on waitlist for 20 months to see an endocrinologist, 16 months to see a GI specialist, two-and-a-half years to see the pain clinic. It’s sad, it’s really sad,” Diane Quigley, who is living with Lyme disease, told Horwath on Tuesday.
During the meeting, seven people sat around a table, joined by Horwath and Arthur, to tell their personal stories — stories Horwath said were a symptom of a larger problem.
“I wish it wasn’t this way, people around Ontario are feeling the same way too,” the opposition leader told the small group. “Our system is really failing folks and it might be small comfort to know that this situation that you’re facing, although individual, is also part of a system-wide problem across our province.”
Horwath attributed the health care problems seen in Kingston to Ontario Premier Doug Ford, who she said is already making deep cuts to health care and threatening to cut billions of dollars more.
“There have been issues around hallway medicine, around access to primary care physicians, health care providers, access to specialists appointments wait times in the ER and this is something that’s not acceptable,” the opposition leader told the small crowd.
According to a councillor who presented a motion at Kingston’s city council in September, as many as 33,000 people in Kingston do not have a family doctor. Council passed that motion in September, calling on the provincial government to reclassify the city as a high-needs area for family physicians.
Sue Fraser, one of the people at the roundtable, said she had her hip replaced and will need an additional surgery, adding that even those with doctors in Kingston are affected by the shortage.
“I remember, I’m old enough to know when you had a relationship with your doctor and now there’s a sign on the wall that says five minutes — 1 issue.”
The shortage has made people like Kathryn Hay travel outside of the city to seek medical attention
“I called tele-health and essentially if I was pregnant or if my mental health was severe I would get a doctor other than that they told me to wait. I did find a doctor in Brockville but that’s 45 mins away,” the 26-year-old Hay told the small group on Tuesday.
It was part of Horwath’s 2018 election platform to alleviate healthcare issues in Ontario. She promised the roundtable that she would continue to push Ford’s government to improve what she called a failing health care system.
“It’s time to restore hope to Kingston families that they will finally get the care they need, without the wait. I’m here to listen, to talk about solutions, and to help map out a better way forward for Kingston.”