Medical care at U of T and the trouble with finding a doctor in Toronto

It was bound to happen sometime. This year, it was a grey and dirty Monday morning when I opened my front door to find the ill-fated letter perched in my mailbox, stuffed between grocery store pamphlets sporting images of fluorescent deli meat. The letter read something like:
Dear patients, It's been my privilege to work as your doctor for the past seven months. However, I have decided to move my practice to Northern Canada, so will no longer be able to provide this service. I have not yet found a replacing physician. Sincerely, Dr. Doctor
So here I am again: doctorless for the third time in five years. Knowing from experience how hard it is to find a doctor in Toronto, I've decided to look into what the university can offer me in terms of both medical care and assistance in finding a new physician. While it's tempting to ignore the absence of a physician in my life, I know all too well that the adage about the apples is categorically untrue. You can eat well, exercise daily and sleep a square eight hours a night, but nothing will absolutely protect you from twisting an ankle while hiking, coming down with strep throat, or (my personal best) falling into a construction pit and bruising half your ribs. We all need doctors at some point. So here is what I found:

Health Care for Students on Campus:

Medical care: Turns out that there is a medical clinic for students on the second floor of the Koffler Center (214 College St). To book appointments you can either show up in  person, phone 416-978-8030, or book online through Web Access. Psychological care: Counselling And Psychological Services, described earlier by Lucy, offers counselling and therapy on an individual or group basis.

Health Care Off-Campus:

Finding a GP in Toronto: Students who plan to live in Toronto after they've finished their degrees may want more permanent health care, which they can continue to enjoy after graduation. While U of T has no facility set up to directly help students find off-campus medical attention, Health Services does provide a link to  Health Care Connect, a government-run organization that helps Ontarians find doctors. Health Care Connect can be reached at 1-800-445-1822 (Monday to Friday from 9 to 5), and also provides online registration for health care services online.

Walk-in Clinics: If all else fails, there is also always the fated walk-in clinic (my last choice). U of T's Health Services provides a list of a number of local clinics, and a fairly comprehesive map of clinics throughout the city at large can be found here. Clinic are often open on weekends, which is helpful when U of T's clinic and most GPs are closed.

Medical Forms:

Medical Certificates: In the situation where you find yourself too sick to get to an exam or test, you'll need to have a medical certificate filled out by either your own physician or by a Health Services doctor. Before you see a doctor, you'll need to print out and fill in this Medical Certificate form and have them complete it. You must take this form with you to the doctor as the forms the doctors have are not accepted by the university.

Medical Insurance Claims: There are online forms available through University of Toronto Students' Union to reclaim money spent on covered medical supplies, which can also be picked up in person from the UTSU St. George Office.

Dental Insurance Claims: Likewise, dental claims can be downloaded from the web-o-web, or picked up in person. Forms generally have to be sent within twelve months of an appointment and are abysmally confusing to fill out the first time - one good reason to go in person if you've never done so before.

So. The next step for me is to test how well Health Care Connect works, as I'd like to find a permanent doctor (who hopefully doesn't then decide to move to James Bay). Perhaps a subject for a future post; I'll have to see how it goes. And until then, I'll keep my eyes open for lurking construction pits.



2 comments on “Medical care at U of T and the trouble with finding a doctor in Toronto

  1. Good luck finding your doctor, Mary. Great post. Finding a doctor who doesn’t end up retiring, moving, or giving up family medicine within a few years of a patient-doctor relationship is definitely tough! Especially given your record of this being the third time, I’m sure any doctor that you find won’t mind your asking him/her up-front if he/she plans to stay in family practice–and in his/her particular location/office–for a while. Again, good luck, and thanks for the info–the tip on Health Care Connect is a good one, so let us know if it works!

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