A Calgary man says his brother has been turned away by two family doctors because he has a developmental disability.
Julio Gonzalez is trying to find a family doctor for his 27-year-old brother Alfonso Gonzalez. Since moving to Calgary, Alfonso Gonzalez has had two "meet and greets" with doctors accepting new patients, but was rejected each time.
"I'm extremely frustrated to be honest with you," said Julio Gonzalez. "He knows he has a disability. He understands discrimination. It's not right, and it's not right for him. It's not right for anybody."
Alfonso Gonzalez can't read or write, and he has problems with his short-term memory. He moved to Calgary three years ago from Toronto, where his mother was taking care of him.
Doctor violated code of ethics
The first doctor said having Alfonso Gonzalez as a patient would involve too much paperwork. Julio Gonzalez filed a complaint with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta. The organization ruled the doctor violated a code of ethics and he was told to change his patient selection process.
"In general the college supports a physician's right to limit their practice based on non-discriminatory parameters," reads the letter from the complaint investigator. "For example, closing a practice to new patients entirely or limited service provided, such as not providing obstetrical services or in-patient hospital care, is acceptable."
A second doctor said she didn't have enough experience dealing with people who have developmental disabilities, according to Julio Gonzalez.
"Why is the doctor given the power to basically pick and choose? I don’t agree with it. I think it’s wrong. If you are a doctor, you're here to help the public," he said.
Rules around accepting patients
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta has standards of practice for doctors entering a new relationship with a patient, said spokeswoman Kelly Eby.
"Physicians are allowed to limit their practice. Say for example, they might only see obstetric patients or they might only see sport medicine patients, but if they have an open practice, so they are accepting all patients, then that is it. They are accepting all patients and they can't whittle it down.They can't discriminate against any patients."
Meanwhile, without a family doctor, the brothers can't fill out the paperwork they need to arrange a HandiBus. So instead of attending his job placement, Alfonso Gonzalez spends his days at home watching television and playing video games.