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South Ottawa medical clinic inundated with new patient requests

Doctors' offices are always busy but at Southbank Medical Centre in Ottawa's south end this week, it has been off the charts.  

"We've been receiving hundreds and hundreds of calls, emails, patients coming in and we're shocked," said office administrator Debbie Walsh. "In the last 18 years I've been here, we've never seen this." 

People in search of a family doctor are desperately trying to get through.  

"Last year, we had two new family doctors and it was never like this so I'm wondering…what's going on," said Walsh. 

It all started after a sign advertising a new doctor was accepting patients went up and was shared online.  

"There has always been a demand but I think post-COVID and during COVID that demand escalated and then doctors started retiring, doctors started getting sick, some doctors left… and that's when it just catapulted," said the clinic's associate medical director Dr. Anees Khan. 

Khan says the centre will take on as many patients as possible, adding clinics like his need more help.  

"We need support from the ministry (of health), we need support from the policymakers and if I may, I would say we need to get doctors in as quickly as possible, qualified doctors. There are so many foreign-trained graduates who are begging for licences." 

Hundreds of new patient application forms have been filled out over the last few days. Staff say they're hoping to be able to help everyone, though it will take time to get through them all.  

"They're like, 'OK, so if they've already had 500 submitted, what are my chances?'" said Tammy Ridge, a registered practical nurse. "I said just give them back to me and you will get a call. I can't guarantee that it'll be tomorrow, I can't guarantee that it'll be in a week or so. It could be in a couple of months but we have such a big stack we've got to go through everybody." Top Stories

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