As ByWard Family Health Team traverses a period of significant transition, we thought it important to give you a bit of background on the changes we are undergoing as well as an idea of the future we are working diligently towards.
Below you will find info on a number of recent and upcoming changes to our services.
As we all know, the current pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges to most aspects of our lives and our clinic is no exception. We have previously communicated the various ways in which we are working to mitigate the risk of transmission in our environment: from a move to virtual appointments to limits on the number of people that can be accommodated in our clinic spaces to rigorous cleaning protocols and mandatory masking. Many of these procedures will remain in place, in one form or another, as we practice pandemic prevention and management as part of the new business as usual, including evolving rules around mandatory vaccination in a variety of settings.
ByWard FHT Family Physicians
The last 2 years have brought significant changes to our family physician team as we have had a number of retirements, practice moves and career shifts which have resulted in a significant reduction in the overall number of family physicians in our group. As a result, the family physicians have had to make some changes to the patient populations they serve and refocus their resources on the core mandate given to them by the Ministry of Health of Ontario. This has meant that some patients have been transferred to different physicians in the group or to the care of a Nurse Practitioner while others have been recently discharged from the practice in order to ensure that OHIP patients have appropriate access to care. We all regret the impact this situation is having on those patients affected and have been working hard to ensure as smooth a transition as possible for them in a very difficult context.
One change as a result of the reduction in the number of family physicians will be the closing of the walk-in clinic as of August 31st, 2021. Since the pandemic began, the walk-in has been operating at reduced capacity and with mostly virtual appointments. As of September 1st, patients registered to a ByWard family physician will be able to make appointments with their physician or a nurse practitioner during the daytime or with a member of the team in after-hours clinic between 5pm and 8pm weeknights as well as 9am and 12pm on weekends.
Students, staff and professors of the University of Ottawa and their immediate families, regardless of their health coverage, will be able to access our new Campus Same Day Clinic. We will operate the Campus Same Day Clinic at 100 Marie Curie from September 1st, 2021 to April 30th, 2022 after which time our services will only be available to registered patients of the ByWard FHT family physicians. More details on these services, including hours of operation, will be available on our website at www.bywardfht.ca.
Booking an Appointment
We recognize that there have been significant challenges associated with reaching the clinic by telephone, particularly since the beginning of the pandemic. This is the result of a combination of factors including an outdated phone system, significantly increased volume of calls (incoming and outgoing) and chronic shortages in staffing. Like many organizations, we have faced significant staffing challenges and many of our support people are new to their roles. Your continued kindness towards our staff as they learn is greatly appreciated.
This fall, we will be replacing our phone system to increase capacity as well as introducing the ability to book appointments online in real time. We will also launch a new patient app that will allow patients to interact with the clinic in a variety of ways including booking appointments, receiving reminders, messaging with their provider and engaging in video visits for some types of appointments – all for within the app. In the meantime, we apologize for the difficulties that you may be experiencing in communicating with our clinic and we thank you for your patience and understanding.
Student Health Services
Another important driver of change for ByWard FHT is a recent decision on the part of the University of Ottawa to establish its own student health service starting in May of 2022. Our organization has proudly managed health services on behalf of the university since 1990, formerly under the name University of Ottawa Health Services, and we will continue to work conscientiously with the university during this time of transition. The vast majority of our services will remain unchanged after May 1st, however, this transition will bring a greater focus on the needs of the general community while uOttawa students will be encouraged to seek the health care from the new university clinic.
We understand that these changes are cause for concern and uncertainty for many of our patients and we are saddened that circumstances have forced decisions that will be perceived as negative for a segment of the community we have had the pleasure of serving for over 30 years. We will do our best to support those affected through this transition. The changes we are making, while difficult for some patients of the practice, will allow our organization to continue to provide the highest quality of care to those patients remaining with the ByWard FHT. We look forward to serving you as we shape our future together.
Clinic Management Team, ByWard FHT