Thursday, May 8, 2008

Dr. Cuckoo-Head, I Presume?

I’ve been trying to find a family doctor since I moved to Ottawa in July. I’ve checked the CPSO many times, called all the clinics, medical centres, doctor’s offices, hospitals, asked friends, co-workers, neighbours, casual acquaintances and even strangers, but couldn’t find a doctor who was accepting patients.

Finally, about 10 weeks ago, I got a name of a doctor who, I was told, might possibly consider it, but I would have to book a half hour appointment to discuss things before she decided whether or not to take me on.

So, yesterday, was the happy day. The waiting room was the usual chaotic scene – unruly mobs of sick people, stressed-out staff. At one point a little ferret-faced woman came charging out of the back and started screeching at the staff… something about a misplaced fax, a lost patient named Margaret and a file that hadn’t been labelled neatly enough.

After only 45 minutes past my appointment time, I got moved up to backroom status. After enough time had gone by for me to carefully check out all the equipment and supplies in the room twice, the ferret-faced woman came in claiming to be the doctor. She extends her pen for me to shake in lieu of her hand.

Then for 8 ½ minutes and without ever looking at me, she starts firing questions hardly waiting long enough between questions to let me give a complete answer. And not the usual questions one would expect, but really bizarre questions, too. Here’s an excerpt from the interrogation:

Dr.: Do you want a colonoscopy?

Me: (Now? I thought, looking around for the anal probe). Umm…why?

Dr. (exasperated at the stupidity of my question) To check for colon cancer!

Me: But why that in particular?

Dr. Well, do you have a history of colon cancer in your family?

Me: No.

Dr: Surgery?

Me: (Now, to me a one-word question like that conjures up endless possibilities – do I want surgery, can I perform surgery, do I enjoy surgery, can I spell surgery) No, thanks. (I finally say)

Dr: (Scribbling furiously & with another exasperated exhalation) Give me a list of the surgeries you’ve had!

Me: I haven’t had any.

Dr. (Slamming clipboard onto desk) I CAN”T BE YOUR DOCTOR IF YOU”RE GOING TO LIE!

Me: (thinking, fuck you bitch). I can have my medical records sent here.

Dr: Why would I want those?

Me: Well… they’re my medical records and they’ll tell you all about the surgeries I didn’t have and other medical stuff.

Dr: I don’t see any point in that. VITAMINS?

Me: (starting to get the hang of this. Yes – a multivitamin/mineral every day.

Dr. (scribbling furiously)

Me: And a calcium supplement

Dr. (Slamming clipboard down again) DO NOT ADD THINGS AFTER I”VE FINISHED TAKING NOTES!

Me: (Looking around for hidden Just-for-Laughs camera). I feel an aneurism coming on.

Dr. (No reaction whatsoever. She just scribbles some more then walks out)

I wait for a few minutes, thinking I might have offended her and now she’ll never be my doctor. My spirits lift. I go looking for her. She’s in the next room, rifling through papers.

Me: Are we done?

Dr. (handing me a sheaf of paperwork – still without ever looking in my direction). Get these tests done. You’ll have a tetanus shot when you come back.

Me: What about my daughter?

Dr. What about her?

Me: Don’t you need to know anything about her?

Dr. She has to come for a meeting. I can’t possibly decide whether I want to treat a patient if I haven’t met them. LOOK (she suddenly screeches pointing at her clipboard) Look at all the work I’ve had to do! I need to do this to know if I want a patient!

I back away slowly. We don't say good-bye. I walk briskly out of the clinic.

I want to break up with her immediately. Is this wrong of me? Should I be falling on my knees in gratitude that some psycho with a medical degree is willing to add me to her patient roster? Or, should I keep looking knowing full well that the chances are very slim of me finding a doctor in this city?

If anyone knows of a non-insane doctor in Ottawa who’s taking patients, please let me know. Thank you.


zoom said...

Oh my god!
My advice is don't take her as your doctor, and do publish her name here on your blog.

Have you tried the Community Health Centres?

Tiana said...


I don't know if my doc is accepting patients but my husband and I seem to be her only patients under the age of 75 so getting on her waiting list wouldn't be a bad thing if you know what I mean.

Here's her RateMD rating:

I wonder what your doctor's rating is!

Jazz said...

So the situation is pretty much the same as in Montreal. I lost my family doctor about 7 years ago, and I still haven't found a replacement. I'm seriously thinking of going private.

The Casual Perfectionist said...

Wow...that's crazy! I'm not in Canada, so I can't offer any advice, but I would say to keep looking!

A. & J. said...

What a bitch!

I am so upset with the shortage of doctors in Ottawa. i've been living in Ottawa for 3 years and can only see clinic doctors.. it sucks.

I wish Ottawa would get their act together and get more female doctors.

JB said...

There are NO doctors in Brantford taking patients. NONE. So, we went to a walk-in clinic with the twins THREE times and got THREE incorrect diagnoses. Finally, my wife took the day off work to drive an hour to our family doctor in Burlington (who we can't afford to give up, obviously) with the twins in tow, and he straightened out the mess. My advice is, if you had a doctor in Halifax, call them and get back on their patient list. The couple of days off work and the cost of the flight would be worth it to avoid the quacks at the walk-in clinics. They're obviously too overworked to even pay attention to what they're doing. And yes, next time you see ferret-face, give her a slap from all of us - but don't sign on for someone who's that messed up.

Anonymous said...

According to the website for the College Of Physicians & Surgeons Of Ontario there are five family doctors accepting patients in Ottawa. The website address is:

And the Ottawa Search Page Results can be found here:

I managed to luck into the last, or at least most recent, family doctor to set up practise in Hawkesbury... I've been wondering recently if people can try to get on with a family GP in another town or city, so maybe look into Orleans, Nepean, Carp, Kanata... maybe even Rockland. It might be worth looking into the rules on this kind of thing.

Good luck with this.

Anonymous said...

Whoops... there's actually a lot more than five on the list, you can continue into the website using the "next items" button at the bottom of the page... I count fifteen doctors accepting patients, but it's not clear if they're GP's or specialists. Again, good luck with this.

XUP said...

Zoom - I'm on a "waiting list" at our local Community Health Centre, but they're making no promises.

Tiana - Thanks, I'll give her a call. Dr. Cuckoo Head has a frowny face on the ratings and some unhappy comments.

Jazz - There are private doctors? How does one find them?

CP - See, socialized medicine has it's drawbacks as well as some benefits.

A&J - Apparantly there's a "plan". When pressed, I was told the plan was that once the current crop of med students graduate, we'd have more doctors. I can see a lot of flaws with this plan.

JB- Halifax seems like a long way to go for a check-up. My doctor there was a very nice woman - not much of a doctor, but very nice.

Salted - Thanks for the info. As I mentioned, I visit the CPSO site often. It may say a doctor's taking patients, but it's never true - either that or they get full up by the time I call. Some of them tell me they haven't taken patients for years, yet they're still shown as YES for accepting new patients. You can get a doctor anywhere - no rules, but it would be nice to have one that didn't require a major excursion to visit.

Newsguy Bob said...

Try the Blackburn Family Medicine practice at 613-824-6500. Two doctors recently joined there, both young women: Dr. Rochon and Dr. Gagnon. I'm not sure if they're still accepting patients, but it's worth a phone call. I know it's not right in Ottawa, but OC Transpo goes right by their office. Buses 94, 25, 28 and 125.

XUP said...

Thanks Bob. I'll give them a call & also Tiana's Dr.

alison said...

I'm kind of in the same boat. I've had the same doctor for 11 years, but she's retiring this summer and I have to find a replacement for the girls and myself. Sigh.

And one small nitpick on your comment (sorry, occupational hazard for an editor) but we don't have socialized medicine in Canada. In socialized medical systems, the doctors work directly for the state. In Canada (and many other countries with universal care), doctors run their own private practices, just like they do in the US. The only difference is that every doctor deals with one insurer, instead of 150. And that insurer is the provincial government, which is accountable to the legislature and the voters if the quality of coverage is allowed to slide.

The proper term for this is "single-payer insurance."

This is cribbed from a really good article found at

Oh, and I would so dump Dr. Cukoo-head. Good luck. If I find a Dr. accepting patients, I'll email you with the name.

XUP said...

Thanks for the clarification, Alison and I'll be interested to see how you make out with your doctor search. I would think a retiring doctor would have someone in place to take over her practice. I guess not.

A Happy Downtowner said...

I think I'm going to hug my doctor next time I see her. I've had her since 1986, she's about the same age as me so I'm good for a while.

I would tell that overworked, burned out bitch that, after some thinking you decided NOT to take her on as your doctor. lol I cannot fanthom being treated like that, maybe I'm naive but anyone talking to me like that would see me walking out the office and never come back.

XUP said...

HD- You're absolutely right. It's just so damn difficult to find a doctor at all that everyone makes you feel that you have to take anyone who's willing to take you on. But, I can't even imagine seeing Dr. CH again.

Mud Mama said...

OMG!!! That was insane...

I don't have any SANE advise for you on getting a doctor. I take one of two tacts - have an asthma attack in their office or show up pregnant. In both cases some hippocratic oath thing makes them bend over backwards to take me in.

Maybe one of us could, you know break your pinky or something, so they'd feel honour bound to treat you t- hen you'd be on the books?

I got a doctor in a nice formal cooperative 5 minutes after getting here (Wolfville)

I was at the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre before that (LURVE THEM!!!!)

XUP said...

Mudmamma - I had no trouble finding a doctor in Nova Scotia either -- in fact, I wasn't happy with the first one I got and switched - no problem. I'm on the waiting list at my local community health centre. That seems to be the way to go.

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