A crucial resource in Ottawa's east end that acts as an alternative to the emergency department has taken a huge financial hit amid COVID-19 and doctors at the Orléans Urgent Care Clinic are doing what they can to prevent it from closing.
"Right now our patient volume, which is what drives the business end of it, is down 66 per cent," says Dr. Raymond Aubin, the president of the Orléans Urgent Care Clinic medical associates. "Normally we would see 150 to 170 patients a day, right now we’re seeing 50 patients a day."
Aubin says the clinic, which is not seeing anyone with respiratory illnesses, is losing $30,000 to $40,000 a month.
Adding to the financial stress—doctors can’t bill the province for all the appointments they’re doing over the phone for another few months due to a glitch in the electronic billing system. With staff and operational costs that still have to be paid, Aubin says "it’s an existential threat for sure. We may not survive if we don’t have some kind of support."
A survey by the Ontario Medical Association found 49 per cent of outpatient clinics are thinking about closing.
“It really is a perfect storm in a bad way,” said OMA president Dr. Sohail Gandhi. “There needs to be broad infrastructure support so these clinics can continue to be solvent basically and they don’t shut down because as we come out of COVID-19 we’re going to need the services.”
The clinic has gone from five doctors to two. Aubin is hoping the government will step in financially.
"We’re looking for other, additional support to cover the deficit period during the pandemic period," says Aubin.
CTV News Ottawa has reached out to the Ministry of Health for comment.