2020-01-20 22:11:33

Ontario parents say a free virtual pediatric clinic is 'critical.' So why will they now have to pay?

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Parents and health-care experts are speaking out after learningan online pediatric service that's helped keep sick children out of overflowing Ontario hospitalswill no longer be free startingnext week due to provincial fee cuts.

KixCare,a clinic that offers on-demand,round-the-clock pediatric care, is making the move asthe province is set to cut the fees it pays pediatriciansfor virtual visitsby 75 per cent, from $80to $20per patienton Dec. 1.

The clinic, which saw patients without a referral,will instead offer apaid monthly subscriptionthat willcost parents$29 a month.

This is just not the right time, if ever, to bring in these cuts, said Dr. Harley Eisman, co-founder and chief medical officer at KixCare, which saw 20,000 patients virtually in the past year, according to its co-founder and CEO Daniel Warner.

The cutscomeas children's medical centres across the country, such as Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children, aregrapplingwith climbing hospital admissions due to COVID-19, flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Some patients are waiting up to 12 hours to be seen, according to data obtained from SickKids. And some parents say they have nowhere to take their child as their family doctor or pediatricianwill not see a patient in-personif they have symptoms of COVID-19.

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