BETTER HEALTH

Oak Bay Medical Center

General Information

OFFICE HOURS
The office and phone lines open between the hours of 8:30am to 4:30pm, Monday to Thursday, and 9:00am to 3:00pm on Fridays, excluding statutory holidays and weekends. Some physicians extend their hours outside of these specified times.

The office staff will notify you accordingly. These hours are SUBJECT TO CHANGE and are physician specific. The phone lines are closed over the lunch hour.

Dial 1 for Drs. Ferrao and Tandon

Dial 2 for Drs. Arcega, Caine, Forsyth, and Penkman

Dial 215 for Dr. Salem

When booking appointments via telephone, please be as specific as possible regarding the nature of your medical issue. This enables the staff to schedule an appropriate amount of time to adequately address your issue. If the medical issue is of a ‘sensitive’ nature, rest assured that confidentiality will be maintained throughout the office as per strict office policy.

Our office staff will exercise full discretion in this setting. It is also sufficient to indicate that your issue is ‘personal’ if booking an appointment at the front desk or if you feel uncomfortable divulging your concern.

As a courtesy to patients, our staff will typically set aside a few appointment slots daily for acute, non-routine issues. Our focus is to improve office access in order to reduce the need to visit walk-in clinics or urgent care centres. It is suggested that patients call earlier in the day to access these appointment times, as they can fill up rather quickly.

It is kindly asked that patients do not request these same-day appointments for prescription refills or other non-urgent issue. All prescription bottles indicate the number of remaining refills and hence some forward planning is requested.

Most of the time, the office is still able to accommodate same-week access for non-urgent medical concerns. While it is understood that some practices are extremely busy, it is not required to book an appointment months in advance.

There will be times in which a patient will require a last-minute appointment for acute minor concerns (ex. illness before travelling) on days that are fully booked. In the event we can fit you in for an appointment, we kindly request that you refrain from voicing other concerns as this significantly cripples the flow of the office.

Most patients are met with feelings of alarm and fear when called back to the doctor’s office. Please keep in mind that callbacks are quite common and the majority of office callbacks are for NOT for serious issues. A callback to office does not necessarily mean ‘cancer’ or some other life-threatening illness.

Family practices today generate a massive amount of test results such that it is not viable to address laboratory or imaging results via telephone. On occasion, a physician may call a patient directly to discuss results over the phone; this is done as a courtesy to patients and should not be the routine expectation.

Generally, if a laboratory result is concerning, you will be contacted and asked to come in. However, the general expectation would be for you to book an appointment to discuss the results following any test if you have concerns. Occasionally, patients can be called back for normal results, particularly in the setting of more advanced investigations such as CT scans or MRIs. This is to discuss potential future investigations and/or provide patients with some closure.

Please note it is strictly against office policy for office staff to divulge the specific nature of the callback over the phone. The office staff may indicate urgent or non-urgent and whether the abnormality pertains to lab testing or imaging.

In Alberta, referral to a specialist must be initiated by a family physician. This is often facilitated through a physician-to-physician letter or referral form. Much of this inter-office communication is achieved through facsimile correspondence. It must be reinforced that unfortunately communication transmissions fail on occasion and it is generally recommended that patients make every effort to follow-up on referrals.

If you do not hear back regarding a referral within 2-3 weeks, please call the office back to determine your referral status. Lengthy wait times for a specialist consultation are expected; it is NOT reasonable however to wait several months before being given an appointment time or confirmation of receipt of referral.

Family physicians are trained across a spectrum of disciplines and are generally capable of initially managing most medical conditions. Not every pimple requires a dermatologist, nor does every case of depression warrant a psychiatrist.

If a medical complaint extends beyond the family physician’s scope, a referral will certainly be initiated. The decision to refer requires joint agreement between the patient and physician and not based simply based on a patient’s request.

Our specialist consultants carry a degree of expectation regarding appropriate diagnostic work-up prior to referral. As a courtesy to our consultants, this would require the patient to perform testing as a requisite to consultation. Some referral services will outright refuse consultation until strict referral criteria are met.

The chart review, letter preparation, and review of preliminary work-up take time, and for this reason we ask that patients do not request referrals at the end of a visit. We do not make these policies, nor do we have any control over them.

Lastly, a referral to a specialist is resource intensive, demanding valuable physician and staff time. Document your specialist appointment date and time, and set reminders accordingly. Physicians often write letters and initiate referrals for patient, only for the patient to forget about or change their mind about the appointment.

This is onerous on the physician and costly to the health care system; be certain about your decision to see a consultant. Some consultants charge a fee for missed appointments and failure to comply will deny all further specialist access.

Referrals are not required for private-pay medical services such as cosmetic medical treatments or private surgery. Referrals are not required for specialist follow-up within a specified period.

Please note, the following information pertains to Dr. Salem’s practice.

In 2015, we made it a focus to reduce wait times. It is now uncommon to encounter wait-times greater than 45 minutes. On most days, one should expect a 15-20 minute wait-time. Going forward, we hope to continue to make it our priority to minimize unpleasant waiting.

With sincerity, we ask that patients attempt to understand that fully eliminating wait times is unrealistic. Hazardous weather can make patients late. Phone calls to and from specialist consultants are commonplace. Minor emergencies occasionally do happen. Some medical issues are simply more complicated than expected. Predicting what will happen on any given day is impossible, and this makes physicians run late.

For this we make a genuine apology. Our staff has been instructed to inform all patients regarding wait times in excess of 25-30 minutes upon checking in. If you are unable to keep your appointment due to this, we will be happy to reschedule you.

If you have been injured at work as an employee of a company resulting in lost-time or modified duties, it is a requirement to report this injury to the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) of Alberta. The costs of all medical services related to attending an injured worker are covered by WCB Alberta, and not by the Alberta Health Care plan.

Additionally, processing paperwork for WCB related complaints is extensive and onerous. For both these reasons, it is asked that all non-WCB medical complaints (simple or complex) be deferred to another appointment.

Patients often state that they “do not wish to go through WCB”; this is simply not an option as we are bound by provincial regulations.

In conjunction with the University of Calgary, our associate physicians may occasionally be involved in clinical teaching activities involving resident physician and medical student learners. These teaching activities are a valued and necessary training component for future physicians. We appreciate your patience in allowing these learners to participate in your care.

Medical learners will have variable skill levels and expertise. Their level of participation in your care will remain in accordance with their level of training and they will not practice beyond the scope of their training. You will still be attended to by your physician when a learner evaluates you independently.

Staff will notify you on days when a learner is present. If it is your preference to not have a student involved in your care, please notify the staff. Lastly, please engage these learners respectfully.

Physician requested laboratory testing is performed off-site through Calgary Lab Services (CLS). Appointments can be made online at
https://calgarylabservices.com or by telephone at 403-770-5136. It is strongly advised that patients book an appointment as patients often experience lengthy wait-times when arriving as a walk-in. Laboratory service locations and operating hours are listed on the back of the CLS requisition. Laboratory testing is rarely requested as STAT and is often not required immediately.

Most laboratory results are reported back to the physician within 24 – 48 hours. This however does not apply to all results. Microbiology, antibody testing, and pap smear results are examples of tests that can take days to weeks for a result.

In the spring of 2015, CLS removed the requirement to fast before cholesterol testing. Furthermore, fasting blood sugar testing is ordered less frequently. Unless indicated by the physician, fasting prior to testing is NOT likely required in most cases.

There are several radiology providers in the Calgary region and it is our understanding that they all generally adhere to the same booking policies. A physician will typically supply the patient with a company-specific diagnostic image requisition based on their individual preferences. These company-specific requisitions are accepted by ANY radiology provider in Calgary.

As an example, a requisition for EFW will be accepted at RCA and vice versa. If you choose another company based on convenience or past history, this is entirely acceptable. The booking number for each radiology provider can be found at the top of their respective requisition, and locations are on the back of each form.

The larger and more well-known radiology provider companies in Calgary include:

• EFW Radiology
• Mayfair (formerly RCA Diagnostics)
• Canada Diagnostic Centres
• Pureform Radiology

As a rule of thumb, patients SHOULD NOT book an appointment for X-ray imaging as patients are only accommodated on a walk-in basis.

Physician requested diagnostic imaging such as ultrasounds, mammograms, and bone density scans can be booked directly by the patient. Urgent ultrasound imaging is available, although this can only be booked by the office and if deemed necessary by the physician. Please discuss any urgent ultrasound needs with the front-desk staff.

More advanced imaging modalities such as CT and MRI scans can only be booked by the medical office. After a request is submitted by fax, a notification is typically received by the office within 1-2 weeks. If you do not hear back regarding an appointment time after 2 weeks, please call the office back to determine your appointment status.

Unfortunately communication transmissions fail on occasion and it is generally recommended that patients make every effort to follow-up on their appointment status. All radiology investigations typically take 1-3 days to be reported by a radiologist. The report generated is sent back to the family physician’s office.

The expected wait time for routine MRI and CT scans is typically several months. Even ‘urgent’ requests can take weeks. We like to remind patients regarding the option for rapid access private (patient-pay) imaging. Some health-care insurance plans include health-spending accounts that can be used towards private imaging. For many, private imaging can offer a patient much needed peace of mind.

Please notify the office staff regarding the purpose of the any form you require completed when booking your appointment. Be advised that forms are not typically completed at the time of your appointment as this can create significant schedule delays. Form completion often requires a chart review to ensure accuracy, even with seemingly simple forms.

In most cases, the cost of completing third-party forms is not covered by the Alberta Health Care plan. Pre-operative medical examinations that are requested for private surgery, are not covered by the provincial plan.

For seniors, the Government of Alberta provides free basic Alberta Blue Cross Coverage for health services not covered by the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan. While coverage is government-subsidized, Alberta Blue Cross is a PRIVATE health insurance provider. This coverage is available to all Albertans 65 years of age and older.

As this is a private company, Special Authorization Form completion is not covered by the Alberta Health Care plan. These forms require chart review and physician time. The office staff will now be contacting patients to ensure they are aware of a charge before proceeding.
The electronic medical record refers to medical documentation in an electronic format. The healthcare system, as with most systems, is shifting to a fully computerized format. Each office however operates independently of other offices and these records are not inter-connected. While one would hope for a fully-detailed, centralized cloud-based system accessible to all health care providers, the healthcare system is still a long way away from achieving this. Alberta Netcare serves this role to some degree.

Alberta Netcare refers to the provincial Electronic Health Record database. It is a secure and confidential electronic system of Alberta patients’ health information. Within Alberta Netcare, health care providers are able to access most laboratory and diagnostic imaging reports, operative reports, medication profiles, and to a much lesser degree specialist consultation reports. The majority of specialist consultations are delivered through the respective consultant’s office and are NOT available on Netcare.

Alberta Netcare has significantly bridged continuity of care. Late-night investigations completed in the emergency department are now accessible the following day in the physician’s office. This was only made possible in the last decade; prior to this, a family physician would be ‘in the dark’ on their patient’s status for several days.

Please note that family physicians are not automatically alerted when new investigations are performed by an alternate physician. Netcare information retrieval is active and not passive. Thus, please inform your physician if you have visited the emergency department.
Make every attempt to ensure contact information is current. In the event of an abnormal lab result, it is crucial to have updated contact information on file in order to notify you. It is also useful to have contact information on file for next of kin.
As per the Health Information Act, the office reserves the right to charge a fee for the production of patient charts. There is employee, material, and courier costs that factor into the preparation and transfer of the chart. This cost is common to all medical offices.
Locum physicians are those who cover for other physicians when they are away. Locum physicians do not have their own practices and function specifically to relieve other physicians during their absence.

Patients are encouraged to book appointments with the locum physician, particularly for last minute or minor concerns. We understand that some medical concerns are challenging and carry a long history. Patients may find it tedious to retell their entire history and are reluctant to book with a locum physician. In these circumstances, waiting until your physician’s return is acceptable.

When patients choose not to see a locum physician, this creates a significant back-log on a physician’s demanding schedule. A locum physician can provide a fresh perspective on chronic issues. We make it a top priority to arrange locum coverage during extended physician absences.

Ask Your Family Doctor For A Referral