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Central Saanich seniors without a family doctor turn to newspaper ad to get prescriptions filled

Janet and Michael Mort were driven to take out the advertisement after their “wonderful” family doctor retired in December and they were unable to get their prescriptions renewed.
Janet and Michael Mort, pictured with their poodle Chipotle, with the ad they ran in Saturday's Times Colonist to try to find a family doctor. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Janet Nadine Mort took the unconventional route of taking out a Times Colonist ad to seek a medical doctor to refill prescriptions needed for her 82-year-old husband.

It worked.

Michael Mort not only obtained the prescriptions but, “I have two doctors who would like to be Michael’s family physician,” Janet Mort said Tuesday.

A display ad on page A2 in Saturday’s Times Colonist said: “Wanted: Licensed medical doctor for prescription renewal. Urgent! Please?”

Janet Mort was driven to take out the advertisement after their “wonderful” family doctor retired in December.

“We need a doctor’s help to renew my 82-year-old husband’s prescriptions. We will agree to any reasonable fee: Michael is worth it.”

No walk-in clinics seemed to be available and the Telus Health Mycare did not have virtual appointments available immediately, said Mort, who holds a PhD in language and literacy and and was honoured in 2020 with the Order of B.C.

Michael’s health was deteriorating and Janet was distraught. “I cried myself to sleep feeling there was nothing left that I could do.”

But then she woke up with the idea of taking out an ad, and ran it by her husband to see if he would agree to revealing their situation publicly, which he did.

The ad included Michael’s email and has generated more than 200 messages.

One writer found some openings on the Telus site and urged Janet to make an appointment right away. “I opened my app and grabbed one.”

She heard from doctors who offered to do virtual appointments.

Many writers shared their own stories of hardship without a family doctor.

The Morts’ situation highlights what’s also happening for about 700,000 British Columbians who are also without a family doctor.

It is estimated that 100,000 people in the capital region do not have a family doctor. Meanwhile, medical clinics have closed this year in Saanich, Victoria, Colwood and View Royal leaving thousands of patients without a family doctor.

The province Health Ministry said in a statement, “Island Health has reached out to this family to assist with refilling their prescription and, if need be, book an appointment with a doctor, nurse practitioner or pharmacist.”

In such situations, the ministry said people can phone 811 at no charge to reach the provincial health information and advice phone line. It is operated by HealthLink B.C., which is part of the Health Ministry.

Calling 811 will link callers to a health care navigator who assists residents in finding information and services. Callers can talk to a nurse or pharmacist, for example.

Greater Victoria is also home to five urgent and primary care centres which accept walk-in patients daily and also have virtual appointments. The ministry recommends calling within the first 30 minutes of a clinic opening to get your name on a wait list.

The province said it has been investing in service improvements, spending more than $70 million to improve primary care in Greater Victoria.

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