By Dr. Alissia Valentinis, MD, CCFP, FCFP, National Home Doctor Medical Director
How our doctors look after patients after hours.
Whenever somebody asks me what the best thing is about working with National Home Doctor, I have to stop and think. How can I explain the rewarding nature of the job? First, the interesting clinical side, and the challenge of dealing with acute conditions, makes it very professionally rewarding. But more rewarding still are the patients, who are so grateful for the service we provide.
I have spoken to a number of our doctors across the GTA, and I constantly get that same feedback. The best part of our job is how appreciated we are for the service we provide.
Acute, episodic illness
As we all know, illness can strike at any time and especially in those most vulnerable such as young children and the elderly. When it is late at night or on the weekend, and your family doctor is unavailable, it can be worrisome if you don’t have a doctor you can turn to. Of course, there’s always the hospital, but the Emergency Room at the hospital is meant to be for life-threatening emergencies. Our service is designed to bridge the “gap” when you need after hours medical care for non-emergencies.
Home visits are not a new idea. In fact, many years ago, most doctors would visit patients at home, often after a busy day at their offices to check on little babies or frail grandmothers or bedridden patients. In those days they were called house calls, and some of our older relatives will remember them well. Today, there is National Home Doctor available at 416-631-3000 with a team that works 8 am to midnight to match up doctors with patients. We have modernised the old-fashioned house call and created a service accessible to millions of Ontario residents.
It is amazing how grateful patients are when you visit them after hours. Parents, care givers and partners, calling for themselves or a loved one, are usually worried and anxious about an illness or injury that needs medical attention. Along with their specialised clinical skills, our doctors are well-trained in good bedside manner – lending a sympathetic ear, and calming anxieties the parent or caregiver may have.
Why patients call us
Our doctors are on the road at night and on weekends, when family practices are closed, treating a myriad of episodic illnesses. These acute illnesses can’t wait until the next day, or the end of the weekend, but at the same time don’t warrant a visit to Emergency Room. Most commonly, we see acute respiratory illnesses, such as influenza, bronchiolitis, croup, and viral infections. We also see patients with asthma or chronic respiratory disease, or patients with gastroenteritis (stomach flu).
You can read more about the most common reasons patients call us here.
Diagnosis and treatment
Our doctors will examine the patient, asking as many questions as necessary to help form a diagnosis. The doctor may simply reassure the patient, recommend a treatment, or further tests and follow up with their family physician.
One of the difficult parts of our job is estimating how long our doctors are going to be. It is always difficult to tell how long each consultation will be, and aside from that, distances, traffic and weather can play their part to cause delays. Our call centre usually errs on the side of caution when they estimate when the doctor will arrive. Please be patient with our doctors, as they work very hard to see as many patients as possible.
Tell us what you think
We welcome feedback from our patients about their experiences with National Home Doctor. I am pleased to say that overwhelmingly our patients share their stories of wonderful doctors and excellent service. We can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
When you’re worried sick…
The reason I love the work we do is that we help people in their hour of need. They are worried about themselves or a loved one, and don’t know where to turn. The next time you are in that situation, call National Home Doctor at 416-631-3000. Not only the doctors, but the operational and administrative team are all working to take that worry away.
Dr. Alissia Valentinis MD, CCFP, FCFP, is the Medical Director at National Home Doctor. She has more than 14 years’ experience as both a family physician and visiting home doctor.