By Tina Comeau
South West Health is welcoming a new family physician to the Oceanview Family Practice and the health district has decided that patients will be accepted in increments of 100 at a time.
After the first 100 new patients are processed and seen by Dr. Kyarash Safakish, additional patients will be accepted using a similar process. It is expected that Dr. Safakish will eventually be able to accept a maximum of 1,100 patients.
The first 100 patients will be accepted only over the telephone. People can call Oceanview at 742-4365 during these specific times:
• Wednesday, Feb. 6 from 1-3 p.m.
• Friday. Feb. 8 from 1-3 p.m.
Oceanview has four telephone lines and an internal line through the hospital switchboard that can accept telephone calls. People will be asked to provide their MSI number, date-of-birth, and a valid telephone number when they call. After the first 100 patients have been accepted the application process will close. Oceanview will not keep a waiting list. An announcement will be made later when Dr. Safakish is accepting new patients again.
People will only be considered for the practice if they do not have a primary health care provider (a family physician or nurse practitioner) in the South West Health district –Yarmouth, Shelburne or Digby counties.
South West Health is asking that people not call with a list of names of friends or extended family members. Oceanview will only consider a person and their immediate family members (spouse, parent or children).
South West Health says accepting 100 patients at a time is designed to avoid the creation of a large list of patients that takes many months to process. It is hoped this will also reduce the frustration of patients waiting for an appointment.
“What some of the doctors have done before if they are taking new patients is they say give us a call and they get 1,000 people and it takes them a year to get through the list to call everyone and get an appointment,” says South West Health spokesperson Fraser Mooney. “Hopefully this might avoid some of that.”
Dr. Safakish started working at Oceanview Family Practice, located at the Yarmouth Regional Hospital, in January. He received his medical degree in Iran where he practiced as a family physician for six years. He is part of the CAPP program – the Clinician Assessment for Practice Program for international medical graduates. CAPP physicians work closely with an established doctor until they are fully prepared to practice in Canada. New CAPP physicians may need up to a year to transition into a practice.
Meanwhile, recruitment of new physicians and primary care providers remains a strategic priority for South West Health. Mooney says the estimate is that there are between 4,000 and 6,000 people without a family doctor.