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Kitchener nurse practitioner operating private clinic

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As Ontario’s public health system continues to battle long wait times and a shortage of family doctors, a Kitchener nurse practitioner claims to have the first and only private health clinic in the area.

Phlox Health in south Kitchener offers many of the same services as a public health clinic or family doctor – but operates as a private facility.

“Sometimes it’s called ‘private pay’ because obviously not everybody has the money nor the accessibility, but we feel that it’s very affordable and makes it accessible,” said the nurse behind the clinic, Sandra Dudziak.

Dudziak says she sees anywhere from seven to ten patients per day. Each pays a $75 flat rate per hour-long visit, with most primary services still covered by OHIP.

“Blood work, X-rays, things like that, are still covered,” said Dudziak.

Phlox Health believes it to be the first private nurse practitioner clinic in Waterloo Region and serves as an alternative for residents without a family doctor.

“We have a system that’s poorly designed for the needs of people today in general,” said Dr. George Heckman, an associate professor with the School of Public Health Sciences. “Add to that the shortages of family doctors, psychiatry, geriatrics, nursing and then you have the recipe for what we see now.”

In a statement to CTV News, a spokesperson for the Minister of Health said in part:

“Our government is proud to have one of the largest publicly-funded healthcare systems in the world. A system that we have invested $80 billion in this year alone.”

The statement added that surgical backlog has been reduced to pre-pandemic levels, while workforce and hospital development is on the rise.

The Ontario Health Coalition doesn’t like Phlox Health’s model.

“No patient should ever had to pay for access to their medical care. That is a cornerstone in Canada. As a nurse, I would think that that should be unethical. They’re supposed to be advocates to their patients. They’re supposed to value equity as a core value in the access of their healthcare and this is not right,” said executive director Natalie Mehra of the Ontario Health Coalition.

But some patients aren’t willing to wait for public healthcare to catch up.

“I find coming here – everything I need happens almost immediately,” said Phlox patient Tea Susnjar.

“I don’t want to sit waiting six hours for something that you could get here faster.”

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