Philip and Justine Urness are recent graduates from the University of Alberta. Each week, the duo take on 50-70 new patients at the clinic. Because of them, the clinic has taken on 300 new patients in January alone. But many more have been turned away.
Staff at the clinic say they are doing the best they can to accommodate new patients.
They’re asking people who need a family doctor to come to the clinic on Fridays, and they’ll book as many new patients as they can for another week. On Jan. 31, the first 10 people in line at the door were taken on. Thirty were told to try again next week.
Valerie Theoret waited outside the clinic on Friday, hopeful she'd get a spot with one of the physicians. She wasn’t lucky.
“This seems like a rock-and-roll waiting list and I don’t feel like this is about my health,” she says.
Between 40 and 50 more people called the clinic, hoping to get an appointment booked that way. A select few were successful.
"There's no good way of taking on new people when there's such a huge demand," said Dr. Ken Quong, the clinic's manager.
"We're struggling to do our best to accommodate people, literally on a first come, first served basis, as we can open up the schedule."
He's planning the Urnells' schedules a month in advance. Once the month is full, the following week after that is open for new patients. That's what creates the line-up: people hoping to land a spot in that open week.
Karen MacFarlane has waited for a family doctor for a year and a half. She was waiting outside the clinic doors this morning at 7 a.m. She too, was turned away. She says she'll get back in line next Friday.