After waiting sixty days for my Personal Health Number to arrive (and be valid), then sitting on the BC family physician waitlist for ninety days (and counting), then trying to get into a walk-in clinic (you have to call in for an appointment these days) and failing, I finally, finally, saw a doctor.
Granted, I only saw them virtually. I’m still on the GP waitlist, and I’ve yet to set foot inside a walk-in clinic. But I spoke with a real, BC-licensed doctor, got a real prescription, and had it filled at a local pharmacy.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m in general good health (post-Covid). I’ve managed to dodge the family diabetes so far (touch wood), I don’t have any mobility issues, and my asthma has actually gotten better since moving to BC (cleaner air than the States). But I’ve had an issue for the last few months that I wanted to get checked out, because it didn’t seem to be getting better on its own.
Luckily, one of my friends at work (that also lives in BC), recommended I checkout Maple, a tele-health company operating in Canada. I was skeptical, but out of options, so I signed up, and was pleasantly surprised to find out they had BC-licensed doctors, which meant my consultation (their word) would be covered by my provincial health insurance.
Not everything is covered, mind you. They have dermatologists and other specialists available, but those are not covered by provincial health insurance (yet), so they charge for those. And you have to select BC GP (not the normal GP button!) in order to get covered care.
Which is only available certain times of day, of course. And while their estimated wait time is an hour, I spent close to two hours keeping tabs on my laptop’s screen, waiting for a GP to pop in.
But they did, eventually, show up! And one look at the pictures I uploaded (ahead of time, while waiting for the GP) was all they needed to diagnose exactly what was wrong, soothe my worries about it being serious, and issue a prescription to fix it.
I was expecting a video call, but it was just chat at first (I guess that’s simpler to implement, and is why they have you upload pictures). They surprised me by calling me at the end of the text chat, just to see if I had any other questions about the diagnosis or the medicine.
They surprised me again by being…well…very Canadian! That is, professional but not rushed, willing to chat a bit and earnestly interested in my well-being. I know: “They’re a doctor, they’re all interested in your well-being,” but that has not been my experience in the States. So it was nice to once again have the experience of encountering not bureaucracy, but people, in this Canadian system.
After the call, Maple sent my Rx direct to the pharmacy I chose, after a few button clicks online. And that was that!
I know this wasn’t a life-threatening condition, but it was such a relief to finally get access to healthcare after being in limbo for so long. To know that it can be there when I need it, and free.
Hope wherever you are, that you can get the help you need, when you need it, whatever form of help that might be.