Currently, the biggest challenge we’re facing is booking patients in Ontario to receive eye care. With limited time slots and significant demand, we are trying to figure out how to care for patients, especially those who have an acute or urgent concern.
When patients call in, the problem we face is utilizing our limited appointment slots. I was having to subsidize OHIP care prior to COVID-19. Now we have increased overhead expenses, we are scheduling longer appointments to meet regulations and therefore have less appointment availabilities which means I am further subsidizing OHIP care. OHIP, especially OHIP partial exams don’t sustain the practice, period. I’m stuck in a place where I want to help my patients but don’t have the space – and if I have the space, I don’t know how I can possibly carry the cost. We’re extremely underfunded by OHIP remuneration. I have bills to pay, staff to employ and significant overhead, making it extremely difficult to care for OHIP covered patients.
It’s even harder to provide urgent care. Once we see a patient with an urgent need, we need access to ophthalmology care which is extremely difficult, especially in northern Ontario, where they’re also seeing fewer patients and having to redesign their practice. We’re trying to control intake of patients while sustaining a practice which results in patients being triaged and told to go to the hospital.
We just can’t afford to do emergency eye care right now.
I care for my patients, I want to take care of their eyes, but I also need to make sure that my business will survive. If my practice is not sustainable, those are jobs lost. How will that help save eye care?