New family doctor draws crowd in Saint-lazare
Response 'a sign of the times'
Tickets for all 500 spots had been handed out by a little after noon on the grey but mild winter day, as potential patients created a line that stretched at times down the sidewalk, in front of a pharmacy and around the corner of the Saint-lazare Saqstore.
The first patients began lining up as of 4:00 a.m. witnesses said.
Feb. 6 was the first day new patients could sign up with Dr. Stephen Harrison, a family practitioner who recently relocated his medical practice to Saint-lazare from L’île-perrot.
Dianna Harrison, Dr. Harrison’s wife and receptionist, said she fielded calls last week from close to 5,000 people wanting the doctor to take them on as permanent patients.
"I told everyone they had to come today... It’s on a first come first served basis," Harrison explained.
She said her husband decided to move his office so the family could relocate to Saint-lazare.
The medical practice, which is shared with pediatrician Dr. Allan Jarjour, was besieged by hundreds of would-be patients.
Security guards hired for the day were on hand to ensure that people waited outside until they were allowed in, a few at a time, to fill in paperwork.
At one point, an employee distributed red tickets to those waiting in the line outside the clinic, located at 1811, chemin Sainte-angélique. Manyof those waiting were elderly people. "Everyone who got a ticket will get a spot with the doctor," Harrison said, explaining
Tammy Wallace and Peter Stadtlehner waited three hours in the cold Monday morning to secure a few of the 500 patient openings for a new family doctor in Saint-lazare.
that her husband will work in Saint-lazare two and a half days a week.
In addition to the 500 who received tickets Monday, 1,200 of Dr. Harrison’s existing patients from his L’île-perrot practice will continue to see him at the newoffice.
Dr. Harrison will also accept 300 patients from the Clscwaiting list.
"I’m glad to be warming up," VaudreuilDorion resident Tammy Wallace said when asked howit felt to have made it inside.
Wallace has not had a regular family doctor for the past five years, since she stopped seeing her regular practitioner in Montreal.
Saying the overwhelming response in SaintLazare toward the new doctor was a "sign of the times," Wallace feels the government has to domore to keep doctors in Quebec.
"We have to make it more attractive to practice in Quebec, not place so many limitations on doctors so they go to other provinces to practice medicine," she noted.
And Peter Stadtlehner, who secured a spot with the new doctor for himself, his wife and older child, felt relief that most of his family was going to be seen by one doctor.
Stadtlehner, who still has to find a doctor for his youngest child since Dr. Harrison is not taking patients younger than 16, said the family was under the gun to find a new doctor as their West Island based family practitioner will retire in May.
"Now I just need to find a pediatrician for my11-year-old," he noted.