3 Orléans doctors to end practices, leaving patients in the lurch

Potentially thousands of patients have been left looking for a family doctor in east Ottawa after three doctors announced they'll be closing their practices.

Up to 150,000 'unattached' patients without a family doctor in Ottawa, group says

This patient is 'shocked' after three family docs closed their practices

5 months ago
Duration 0:43
Renée Ladouceur-Beauchamp said she feels abandoned after three doctors in Orléans — one of them hers — closed their practices.

Thousands of patients in east Ottawa have potentially been left without a family doctor after three physicians recently announced they'll be closing their practices.

Renée Ladouceur-Beauchamp is one of those patients. She received an email from the Orléans Family Health Clinic on Dec. 29 that her family doctor, Catherine Montpetit, was ending her practice there in early April, along with fellow doctors Mariem Malak and Nasim Bahramifarid.

"I felt abandoned. I was panicked because I have medical conditions that require monthly medication and prescriptions and reviews," Ladouceur-Beauchamp said.

"It makes no sense to me why three young physicians would leave all at the same time and quit."

In their letter to patients, the doctors do not explain why they're ending their practices, though they do say there are no other physicians at the still-open clinic accepting new patients.

The doctors advised them to reach out to Health Care Connect, a provincial program that puts Ontarians in contact with physicians accepting new patients.

CBC News attempted to reach the doctors but received no response. A manager for the clinic declined to comment or provide an estimate of the number of affected patients, citing privacy.

Ladouceur-Beauchamp said she was told she has to take herself off of her doctor's roster before she can even join the waitlist to get a new one.

She said she's started that process and has enough prescriptions to last until July.

"I feel like I live in a country with no health-care system and that I'm on my own to figure out what I'm going to do," she said.

The Orléans Family Health Clinic located at Place Centrum on a snowy day.
Three family doctors art the Orléans Family Health Clinic have announced they will be closing their practices on April 6. While other doctors will continue to practice at the clinic, their decision may leave thousands of patients without a primary care provider. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

Ottawa-area health teams are working together to address the family doctor shortage, said Dr. Elie Skaff, physician lead for Archipel Ontario Health Team, a provincially supported organization integrating health and community services for eastern Ottawa and parts of eastern Ontario. 

According to their most recent statistics, there are 134,000 "unattached" patients in the city, Skaff said. But with recent departures and retirements, that number may really be closer to 150,000.

"That's almost greater than the size of Kingston's population, or even Guelph," Skaff said.

While he didn't have specific numbers for the Orléans clinic, Skaff estimated that three physicians would normally have about 2,000 to 3,000 patients.

Skaff said doctors are facing several stresses, including the increasing costs of running their practice, patients requiring more complex care and demands to sacrifice personal time.

As family doctors quit, it places more strain on those who continue to work, Skaff said, and can result in patients turning to busy emergency departments for care.

"To stop practising family medicine is a very difficult thing to decide to do," he said. "This isn't new. This is something that's been happening over time, not just [during] the pandemic."

WATCH | One example of a wider problem:

Issue of unattached patients 'isn't new,' this health team lead says

5 months ago
Duration 0:38
Dr. Elie Skaff, physician lead for Archipel Ontario Health Team, said the issue of family doctors leaving patients without doctors didn't start during the pandemic.

Skaff said policymakers and front-line health-care workers will have to co-ordinate to address the issue.

Any strategy to address the shortage, he added, will also have to confront the trend of fewer medical school graduates choosing to enter family practice.

As for Ladouceur-Beauchamp, herself a veteran of advocating for community and health services, she said the Dec. 29 email inspired a new resolution for 2023: advocating for more access to family doctors.


Matthew Kupfer

CBC Reporter

Matthew Kupfer has been a reporter and producer at CBC News since 2012. He can be reached at and on Twitter @matthewkupfer