‘Health care in this province sucks’: Hundreds wait for chance to get doctor in Kingston, Ont.

Hundreds of people lined up in the cold and rain outside a Kingston health clinic for hours Wednesday morning, desperate to find a doctor.

It marked the third day in a row a line stretched for blocks outside CDK Family Medicine and Walk-In Clinic on Sutherland Drive after the clinic announced it would be accepting new patients.

Prospective patients who filled out a re-registration form online were told to come to the clinic to “roster” starting Monday.

After seeing a line that stretched three blocks Monday afternoon, Dylan Beltrami decided to wait for a better chance at getting in.

The 19-year-old was among the first in line Wednesday morning after getting to the clinic at 7:45 p.m. Tuesday and camping out overnight.

“I’ve had to wait now since September to see someone about medical issues,” said Beltrami, who has been without a doctor since last year.

“Getting a family doctor can speed things up for sure because even the hospital had said without a family doctor I’m looking at two years to get things looked at.”

An ongoing doctor shortage in Kingston has left tens of thousands of people without a primary care provider.

The situation was made more dire when six doctors working in the city retired last May, adding more than 8,000 people to the waiting list.

Earlier this month a post on CDK’s website said four doctors at the clinic would begin accepting new patients in March.

After seeing an “overwhelming response” to its first “rostering day” on Monday, a post on the CDK’s website Wednesday said the clinic will hold more opportunities to roster over the next four months.

The post also said that starting Wednesday intake would be limited to the first 100 people lined up outside the door when the clinic opened.

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Jovi Watt said she wished the clinic had done a better job of letting those already waiting in line know there would be a limit.

Watt, who joined the line along with her father at 3:30 a.m., would have been among the first 20 to get in, but ultimately was not counted because she’d stepped away to use the washroom when staff handed out tickets to the first 100 in line just before the doors opened at 10 a.m.

“A lot of people had been here four to six hours – it’s a long time to wait,” she said, telling Global News she decided to keep waiting in the hope staff would let her in with her father, who had a ticket.

Watt says she’s been “lucky” to have only been without a doctor for about a year, but with chronic health issues that have meant trips to the emergency room, she’s hopeful she can find a doctor soon.

‘Health care in this province sucks’

Dave Mortimer, who says he’s been searching for a doctor for more than two years, laid the blame squarely on the provincial government while he waited in the line Monday.

“When it gets to the stage where we’ve got to line up to get health care and to get a doctor, the state of health care in this province sucks,” he said.

Global News reached out to the provincial government looking for an on-camera interview about the lineups, specifically asking if there was a better way for clinics like CDK to roster new patients.

A spokesperson for Health Minister Sylvia Jones instead emailed a statement highlighting previous provincial health announcements.

“Under the leadership of Premier Ford, our government is taking action, building on our progress adding over 10,400 new physicians since 2018,” the statement from Hannah Jensen reads in part.

Meanwhile, Robyn Bronskill says she’ll keep going to urgent care if “something really major” happens while she remains without a doctor.

The 71-year-old got to CDK just before 10 a.m. Wednesday but turned around when she found out only the first 100 people would get in.

She had hoped to find a doctor for her and her husband, who has been diagnosed with cancer since the couple lost their doctor in 2020.

“My husband felt unwell a couple of years ago, had no doctor and put it off,” she said as she left for home.

“He had cancer finally, but (he) would have likely gone sooner.”

Staff at CDK told Global News they were too busy Wednesday to comment and instead directed a reporter to the clinic’s website.

They advised patients to go to the website for the most up-to-date information, including when future rostering days are scheduled.

–With files from Paul Soucy and Fawwaz Muhammad-Yusuf



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