By Marianne Curtis
Ongoing challenges with doctor recruitment and retention have forced the Steinbach Family Medical Center to change their walk in policies. Patients are being advised that a walk-in doctor will not longer be assigned during the day. Evening walk in hours are not effected.
During the day, doctors will be holding limited appointment openings to accommodate patients that need same day treatment.
“We will try to accommodate patients without appointments but only for urgent medical problems,” stated a statement from the clinic. “These appointments are meant to deal only with the urgent medical problem itself therefore time allocated to these appointments are limited.”
The Steinbach Family Medical Center is continuing their commitment to ensure that patients have timely access to a family doctor by hiring three new doctors. Other doctors in the clinic are expected to modify their schedules to make themselves more accessible to their patients.
Evening and Saturday walk in clinics will continue to operate on their current schedule and is available to everyone including people without a family doctor.
Patients that do have family doctors at the clinic are encouraged to contact the clinic if they can not make an scheduled appointment so that no one is left without seeing a doctor.
“Because of the significant demand for appointments, it is important that patients come as scheduled,” the statement added. “Our goal is to serve Steinbach and area to the level we can, based on the resources we have available.”
Time is a limitation and because of this the doctors can only see so many patients a day. There is also a limit as to how many patients a family doctor can have in their practice and still serve on a timely basis. As rural doctors, they work at the hospital caring for patients, do obstetrical care, assist surgeons, provide anesthesia services, work in the personal care home, provide emergency care and many other health related responsibilities including teaching.
There are currently sixteen doctors and two surgeons working out of the Steinbach Family Medical Center that see approximately 50,000 patients per year. Only 20,000 of these have a family doctor working at the clinic.