By: Dani-Elle Dubé

Crowded waiting rooms force students to search elsewhere for medical management

With emergency rooms to capacity this viral season, flu-ridden students and staff are increasingly turning to Algonquin’s Health Services for advice and treatment.

Those without family doctors do have health care choices. Algonquin’s campuses, as well as the surrounding Woodroffe area, houses several places for students wanting treatment.

On campus, Health Services has nurses, physicians and dietitians available to students. Physicians provide the same care as a family doctor and are available by appointment. If a doctor is not available, nurses are at hand for walk-in patients.

Kathy McLeod is one of three registered nurses at Health Services. “We triage, so if it’s something urgent and you need to see the doctor we can usually fit you in that day or at least within the next 24 hours,” said McLeod. “Often, too, people will ask to see the doctor when they don’t necessarily need to, so if [students] are unsure they can always come to Health Services to get advice on what to do.”

Several other health care options are available to students and the general public outside of the college. The College Square Medical Centre is located in the Loblaws at College Square mall and functions as a walk-in clinic and family practice.

Health promotions educator, Erika Dole, adds that the medical centre does come with a downside. “Wait times [at the medical centre] are usually long,” said Dole. “I would suggest checking with Health Services first to compare wait times.”

The search for a family doctor is becoming more difficult. If students are looking for a family doctor but are unable to find one, Health Services keeps a list of nearby physicians that accept new patients.

The Public Health Agency of Canada has reported widespread flu activity in Eastern Ontario since Jan. 26, 2013 and Ottawa Public Health reported 281 cases of laboratory-confirmed influenza from Sept. 1, 2012 to Jan. 11, 2013.

Registered nurse at O.P.H, France Venne, suggested using online resources provided by the City of Ottawa, as well as the provincial government. “If people don’t have a physician they can contact Health Care Connect,” said Venne. “It is a website and phone line run by the Ontario government that puts you on a wait list to connect with a family physician.”

In more urgent cases, you can enter your postal code on the Health Care Connect website and you will be given a list of nearby available medical resources.

Venne also suggests calling Telehealth Ontario, a healthcare information line that connects you with a registered nurse over the phone to answer your medical questions. “If [people] need more guidance and they are not sure if they should go the [emergency] or call their family physician, it’s a good place to start to get the advice from a health care professional.”

Once students recover, they can be overwhelmed when catching up in schoolwork.

Student Success Specialist, Dan Cuddy, is there to help students when they find themselves falling behind in their studies. “This is the time of year when we have a higher number of people coming in and saying ‘how do I catch up?’” said Cuddy. “I would tell a student to communicate to their instructor and tell them what the story is and ask them how you can make up for [missed assignments].”

For more information about Algonquin College’s Health Services, visit room C-141 at the Woodroffe campus or go online to the Algonquin College website. For city health resources call 3-1-1 or visit