‘Crisis mode’: Legends Medical Clinic closes to walk-in patients due to doctor shortage

More healthcare clinics are forced to close their doors as Canada faces nation-wide physician shortages. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Another Saskatchewan health clinic has been forced to turn away new patients due to the national shortage of physicians and staff. Legends Medical Clinic of Warman shared on social media that it closed the doors to its walk-in clinic on Tuesday, Oct. 11, for a minimum of two weeks.

Glenn Murray, a pharmacist at Legends Pharmacy and co-owner of Legends Medical Clinic, said the decision to close was not made lightly.

“We’re short physicians, like everywhere, but we are particularly short physicians in this area and have been for years,” Murray said.

“We have had to allocate two of our three physicians to walk-in because the walk-ins are incredibly busy. We open at 9 a.m. and by 9:30 or 10, we are four or five hours wait. A lot of people are coming from Saskatoon because there are no physicians.”

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He said physicians are taking their work home with them after hours to compensate for understaffing.

“When we say the physicians are overrun, it’s not just the eight, nine, 10 hours they spend in the clinic. They don’t have time to chart everything, so they are doing it at home. They have one-and-a-half to three hours of paperwork to do every night. It’s just not sustainable.”

Murray has worked in the industry for over 20 years and had occasionally experienced negative reactions from patients frustrated about wait times and understaffing. Now, he witnesses outbursts daily.

“People are scared, they’re sick, they’re frustrated, and they have no family physician, so they lash out.”

Read more: ‘I’m lost’: Saskatoon resident left stranded after clinics close doors to new patients

He reports recent incidents of verbal abuse, intimidation, threats, and slamming chairs and countertops. Angry patients have even taken to ripping signs off of the doors and windows.

Dr. Tomi Mitchell, Holistic Wellness Strategies CEO, is experiencing the same issues in her clinic which she started with the goal of preventing physician burnout.

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“There’s only so much you can do, and if patients have to wait, patients have to wait,” she said.  “It’s not our responsibility to fix a broken system, so physicians need to have a boundary.”

Gary Philipchuk, Warman’s mayor, looks to the Saskatchewan government for solutions.

“I am disappointed in what I read, as blaming front-line staff is completely inappropriate. I have been in contact with the owner and we both are wanting the provincial government to do more, as that is where health funding is provided.”

The city of Warman held a meeting with the Health Minister on Tuesday to discuss an increase in health services for the area and is awaiting updates.

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