SENIORS HEALTH: Physician-patient partnership important in care

Being engaged with medical professionals essential component of good health

  • Mar. 30, 2016 7:00 a.m.
Good communication is essential to a patient-doctor relationship.

Good communication is essential to a patient-doctor relationship.

The Seniors Health Network poses a monthly hypothetical health care question to a health-care professional but this month, things are different.

One of our committee members, Ken Jones, was hospitalized after a fall and these questions come from his experience and are posed to local family physician Dr. Grace Park, program medical director for Home Health in Fraser Health.

My physician is retiring, what should I do?

You should ask your doctor if he has made any plans for another physician to take over his patients.

It is becoming harder to find a physician to take over a practice, and your doctor may have made arrangements with other physicians in the community to take on some of his or her patients.

You can also ask around to your friends and relatives and see if their doctors are willing to accept new patients.

In White Rock/South Surrey, we have a central telephone number to assist you to find a doctor who is taking new patients. The number is 604-531-3111 (Primary Care Access Clinic).

If any patient has complex-care needs or if they also have mental health concerns, one of the nurse practitioners at this number may be able to become your primary health care provider.

How can I ensure my health information is transferred seamlessly to a new physician?

Once you have found a new physician to accept your care, you should go in for a ‘meet and greet’ visit. After the visit, if you mutually agree for you to join this new doctor’s practice, you can sign a ‘release of medical records’ form at his reception desk. The staff at his office will then fax this form to your retiring physician who will arrange to have your records transferred.

My physician doesn’t have ‘hospital privileges’, what does this mean for me?

Many family physicians no longer provide hospital service as part of their practice. The hospital care is managed by ‘hospitalists’ who are general practitioners who have chosen to work in the hospital providing the care your family physician used to provide.

When you are admitted to hospital, the staff will ask for your physician’s name and if he/she does not provide hospital care you will be registered under the care of one of the hospitalists.

How do I deal with having multiple different physicians when I’m in the hospital?

You may see different physicians as you move from emergency to your inpatient bed. You may see specialists as well as hospitalists.

Hospitalists work on a rotation system, so each week they rotate and your care changes hands. Again, it helps if you and your family are mindful of your care plan and you remain informed by the physicians at all times regarding your response to treatment and the care planned for you during your hospital stay.

Although your health record (chart) contains all your health-care information, it is always best to be engaged, informed and part of your health-care planning.

It is very important that you or your family ask questions to the nurses, patient care co-ordinator and the physicians who are looking after you.

How do I deal with seeing a different doctor every time I go to a walk-in clinic?

We are fortunate to have walk-in clinics in our community that will provide after-hours primary care and see patients when their own physicians are unavailable.

These clinics are often serviced by a rotation of physicians, so very likely you will see a different physician each time.

It helps a great deal if you can take charge and responsibility for your own health care by being well informed of your medical history; by carrying a list of your current medications; knowing the names of the specialist and other physicians you may have seen; knowing of any upcoming tests, procedures or surgeries you may have scheduled and keeping a record of your ongoing medical issues.

Providing you with the best possible care requires a partnership between yourself and the physician you are seeing.

It is also important that you ask for a copy of the walk-in clinic interaction be faxed to your own family doctor.

We also have a new app called Medimap that has updated wait times for most of the walk-in clinics in South Surrey White Rock. As well, will display the estimated wait times at walk in clinics

Should I ask about follow-up care when I leave the hospital?

At the time of your discharge from hospital, it is expected that your physician/hospitalist will arrange for your follow-up care.

The nursing staff should also provide instructions on when and where to get your follow-up care.

Additionally, you should be provided with a prescription for medication if your meds have changed during your hospital stay.

At any time, if you have any questions, you can call your family physician’s office who will be able to get the information you need to continue your recovery at home.

For community health resources, visit

The South Surrey White Rock Seniors Health Network is a coalition of seniors service providers working under the auspices of the Mayor of White Rock’s office. For information on community resources, visit If you have a question for publication, please email


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