Our doctor is an hour away and worth the drive! I found her a couple of years after moving here in 1997. She was located conveniently close to my work at the time, which is now inconveniently far from home. They're always good about giving me the first appointment after lunch, though, so I don't have to wait too long after driving for an hour to get there.
When I arrived, I noticed a little letter on the reception window advising patients that one of the doctors was moving to a neighbouring community. I asked whether that meant that Dr.Jones would be on her own after Dr.Davidson's move.
The receptionist turned a bit white and said, "oh..did you not know?? Dr.Jones is retiring in May." WHAT??!! No, I didn't know. How was I to know? I don't ever use the doctor. They hadn't mailed anything out. They are merely hoping that everyone makes it in there before she leaves next month. Thank God I remembered T.Rube's shots, I guess.
I have to say that I kinda knew it was coming. I mean, she is 63 years old. She's done. But, I LOVE her. God, I love her. We both totally cried when she said her goodbyes to me. I hugged her and sobbed. She's been there through so much with me in the past 11 years.
But, more importantly, I was desperately worried about what would happen next.
We have a HUGE doctor shortage here. That's what happens when you have free health care and no privatization, and you border a country like the US who does. Even our own doctors don't want to stay here. We have a decreasing number of physicians who are graduating and an increasing number of physicians who are heading over the border. It doesn't fare well for us. What good is a system of free health care, if you don't have a doctor?
Finding a new doctor is near impossible and finding a female doctor is even worse. You can go to a provincial website for a listing of doctors who are receiving new patients in your area. The list is small. I checked it.
Our government is offering all sort of incentives to doctors to immigrate here and open your practise, and they are making it increasingly easy to transfer your credentials to make sure you've been trained well.
Apparently, the new doctors in South Africa are freakin' desperate to get out of there! They're young and fresh and cute and opening offices all over our country! There's something to be said for politicial unrest, I guess. There are a fair number of new Indian doctors, too. Yep, South African and Indian mostly, and you can throw a few Brits in the mix, too.
In my city, there were 2 available doctors. Both have received their medical degrees in India. Neither of them were female.
Next, I searched a slightly larger neighbouring city. This search had better results - with 14 doctors that were available to take new patients. The breakdown of the list is as follows:
7 of these doctors were trained and received their degrees in South Africa, 4 of them from India, 2 of them from England and 1 from Bulgaria. Only one was a woman.
First thing on Monday morning, I got that list up and called Dr.Claire Rawson's office - the only woman available. She is able to take us as new patients.
(oh... and as I was leaving Dr.Jones' on Friday, she said, "I gave you a prescription a couple of times (YEARS ago!) for a sleeping pill. Why don't I give you another one, good for a whole year, before I go? Just in case...."
I wasn't going to argue. Thanks for the send off!! I'll be sure to think of you every time I pop one.)
(and I hope to hell that the South African is as liberal with the drugs as my dear Dr.Jones was)