1 in 12 people don’t have a doctor in Windsor-Essex, and it’s affecting hospitals | CBC News

James Hazell moved to Windsor, Ont. from Saskatchewan in April.

The 24-year-old says he’s been dealing with ADHD since he was a child, and has severe back issues. 

He can’t find a family doctor in the region to treat him. 

“I’ve been struggling to find a doctor since day one. All the doctors are over-booked. There’s just no doctors, really,” Hazell said. 

“They’re struggling to adapt and overcome from what COVID did to our society, which is a shame, because Canada has always been number one with the medical care, and we’re slowly and surely failing our society.”

Hazell said the longer his back goes untreated, the worse it will become, because of herniated disks. His more immediate concern is treating his mental health.

“It affects me quite hard,” he said of his ADHD. “This past weekend, I had a bad anxiety attack. Without my medications, I struggle, and without a doctor, I can’t get a prescription.”

Hazell said he can’t afford to wait “five or eight” hours in a walk-in clinic to see a doctor. 

“It’s a struggle, and without a doctor, I can’t get a prescription for my medications,” he said. 

“It’s hurting my mental health at the end of the day, and I can only imagine what it’s doing to more severe mental health patients struggling to find a doctor.”

In the region, about one in 12 people are without a doctor.

More than 36K are without a doctor

More than 36,000 people  in Windsor-Essex don’t have a family doctor, and thousands more are contributing to the strain on the health system by using emergency departments to get care. 

That’s according to data compiled by the Ontario College of Family Physicians (OCFP), which predicts that one in five people across the province will be without a family physician by 2025. 

“A number of [family doctors] have retired, and the pandemic probably accelerated that a little bit, but we see fewer medical students choosing family medicine, and some young docs even leaving the profession, where perhaps we might not have expected them to leave so soon,” said Dr. Jen Bondy, a Windsor family physician who sits on the board of the OCFP.

WATCH | Why having a family doctor is so important for patient care: 

Why having a family doctor is so important for patient care:

Windsor, Ont. family physician Dr. Jen Bondy explains why having a family doctor is so important for patients and their long-term health.

“The population is aging, which, as people get a little bit older, they can require a little bit more health care, and the last piece is that the doctors that we do have are spending more and more time doing things that are not face-to-face patient care.”

Bondy said less administrative work could help doctors to see more patients in the immediate term, and that the college is recommending this to the province. 

She also says 3,500 patients in Windsor-Essex suffering from mental health issues do not have a family doctor. 

“Oftentimes, that can be a more complex case that would require and would benefit from ongoing family medicine support,” said Bondy. 

A female doctor sits in her office at a computer.
Dr. Jen Bondy, a family pysician who sits on the board of the Ontario College of Family Physicians, says reducing paperwork could significanlty help doctors see more patients. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

About 14,000 people in the region who do not have doctors often go to emergency departments for care, adding to an already-strained system, said the OCFP.

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