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Windsor has some of the shortest walk-in clinic wait times in Ontario, but that could soon change

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People in the Windsor region faced some of the shortest walk-in clinic wait times across Ontario in 2023, according to a new report.

Windsor had the third lowest average walk-in clinic wait time in the province at 49 minutes last year, but still saw a 20-minute increase over an average wait time of 29 minutes in 2022.

“It is a good thing, even though it might be slightly misleading,” said Medimap CEO, Thomas Jankowski. “So I think you should be celebrating while you can.”

The Wait Time Index from Medimap, a Canadian tech company that matches patients with walk-in clinics, pharmacists and allied health professionals, finds patients in Ontario had to wait on average 59 minutes to see a doctor at a walk-in clinic last year, which is 34 minutes longer than in 2022.

“Windsor is a particular city because you're not quite a larger metro because large metros all around the country are suffering the worst. But you're also not rural, you're somewhere in between,” Jankowski said.

While the average wait time in Ontario is below the national average, which increased to 68 minutes last year, Ontario recorded the largest jump year-over-year out of any province, with Jankowski expecting Windsor’s wait times to balloon in 2024, based off preliminary figures.

He explained, “You've got more people accessing health care because they're retiring and their health is starting to suffer and then you've got young immigrants coming in with kids and toddlers

“We should be looking at opening more walk-in clinics because the vast majority of cases that go to these walk-in clinics belong exactly there and it costs the system the least.”

Jankowski suggested Windsor is special compared to other regions, “You seem to have a good quality or quantity of walk-in clinics. They all tend to close early early, so extended hours would help and then everyone goes to that one ER, and that one ER just cannot cannot compete and handle all of that workload.”

Brampton had the shortest walk-in clinic wait time in the province at 37 minutes, a 27 minute increase over 2022.

Toronto recorded the longest average wait time in the province at 72 minutes, 57 minutes longer than 2022.

London had the second highest average walk-in clinic wait time at 69 minutes, a decrease of 11 minutes compared to 2022.

Jankowski said a contributing factor to wait time increases at walk-in clinics across Ontario is a shortage of doctors. “They're in their late fifties, early sixties, they don’t want to be working for another decade, given the burnout they've been suffering from since the beginning of COVID. So they're just calling it quits early.”

He added, “When I think about the cities that border the US border, we also see examples of doctors halfway through their career in their mid to late forties jumping abroad and choosing to practice in the US because it's not that difficult to actually get re-qualified there, which is also putting a dent on the overall picture. And then finally, you have these young doctors that just finished med school, they just finished their residency, and they're just choosing to skip family medicine altogether because they see how bad it is.”

The Medimap Walk-in Clinic Wait Time Index uses data collected from the majority of walk-in clinics across Canada that use the company’s software to publish wait times online.

Approximately 70 percent of walk-in clinics across Canada use Medimap to share their wait times, which are updated by walk-in clinic staff every 30 minutes on average.

Medimap currently operates in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Nova Scotia.

— With files from AM800’s Rusty Thompson

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