WATCH: More doctors needed to avert West Island health care shortage
There are hundreds of thousands of Quebecers currently waiting to be matched with a family doctor across the province and there are new indications that the numbers are going to continue climbing.
Dr. Natalie Danyliuk is a family physician at the GMF Stillview medical clinic in Pointe Claire and she is currently five months pregnant.
She will begin her maternity leave at the end of September, which will leave her patients having to find another doctor.
"I'm telling a lot of people 'Ok, get as much stuff as you can done in September,' and I'm anticipating that I'm going to be completely overloaded," she said.
Danyliuk says she finds it stressful knowing the impact her departure will have on the workload of her colleagues, like Dr Jeannette Janzen,
Both physicans acknowledge the situation speaks to the larger problem of Quebec not having enough doctors available to provide care across the province.
Dr. Janzen says patients with complex health care needs such as multiple sclerosis, heart disease, diabetes or mental illness, need continuity of care and can't afford to go without a doctor.
Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette says there's a system to in place for doctors to be replaced when they need to take leave from their practice.
"Everybody who goes to maternity leave can be replaced," said Barrette.
"If there is someone to do that replacement, which is not always the case."
The problem is that there are no physicians available to be hired to cover maternity leaves - or anything else.
Janzen told CTV Montreal that she knows several doctors in the community with upcoming retirements and added that even she will need a replacement because she is leaving the province to live in British Columbia.
"By the end of the year on the West Island I suspect the number (of people left without a family doctor) will be closer to 20,000," said Janzen.
Minister Barrette says Quebec's health ministry faces the same challenge at both ends of the island of Montreal, but the East End may be worse Janzen calls the situation completely inappropriate and stressed the "inadequacy is unbelieveable."
* With files from CTV Montreal