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CUAET guides pt.7: How to access medical services in Victoria, BC

This blog contains the unedited posts of Ukrainians who successfully moved to Victoria, BC, and/or their hosts. Content posted with permission. For privacy we are keeping them anonymous. The opinions expressed in the blog are those of the author and are neither supported nor endorsed by the moderators of this website.

This post adds extra details to the post https://ukrainehelpvi.ca/cuaet-guides-pt-3-how-to-apply-for-msp-medical-insurance-in-bc-or-get-emergency-medicines-coverage/

Step by step, how to apply for specific medical services you require and get the pills you need urgently or constantly:
1. Register online for BC insurance called MSP. You are entitled to get it from day 1. The link: https://my.gov.bc.ca/msp/enrolment/check-eligibility
2. Several days after registering, call their number
Toll-free: 1-800-663-7867
Victoria: 250-387-6121
Vancouver: 604-660-2421
Outside of Canada/USA: 1-604-660-2421

You’ll hear a scripted autoresponder robot, it will take you over 15 minutes on the phone to finally reach an operator and you’ll need to press different numbers to get there, I don’t remember the exact sequence but there were several 1s, 0s, and a 5. You have to listen carefully what the robot says and understand what you should click. The system is also available in French and Chinese.
3. After you finally reach a human operator: tell them you need you MSP number. They will ask you to tell all details you entered when filling out the form at step 1. Make sure not to make mistakes. At the end, they’ll tell you your MSP insurance number (PHN). A couple of weeks later, you’ll also receive your MSP card with the same number. To access medical services, the number alone is enough.
4. In Victoria, there is a wonderful clinic called the Emergency Clinic at the Wade building (Pandora street 1107). This clinic cooperates with the immigrant services organizations ICA and VIRCS and they are faster to provide urgent services to incoming Ukrainians than other clinics.
To get a same-day appointment at the clinic – the procedure is the same for all clinics in BC, the doctors and clinics are very overloaded with appointment – A. get up at 8:20 or 8:50, depending on what time the clinic starts working at, 8:30 or 9:00; B. right at the clinic’s work start time, start dialing its phone number for appointments. Keep dialing it for 10-20-50 times if needed, until you reach the autoresponder (usually, a phrase and a tune); C. wait on the phone till you are connected to the operator, that make take 20-40 minutes or more. Then tell all symptoms/diagnoses/needs you’ve got and ask for an appointment. It’s a same-day appointment, the operator will tell you different time options to choose from. You cannot access a clinic without a registered appointment. And you must start with a consultation by a GP (General Practitioner), akin to Ukraine’s терапевт or сімейний лікар. To access any other specialists, you first must get a referral paper from the GP, there is no way around that.
5. Come to the clinic, you’ll need to sit and wait till the GP is freed. Don’t blame any doctors here, they are very overworked, the system is by far less accessible than the private clinics system in Ukraine. The GP can prescribe required medical tests, medicines, and so on.
All doctor consultations and required eligible medical are covered by MSP insurance, but for the medicines you must pay. Make sure to keep the cheque to apply for a reimbursement later.
6. If you want to get a Moderna or Novavax booster or any other vaccination like Hepatites, Prevnar 13, Menactra, MRM, Boostrix, etc. in Victoria: Call Victoria Health Unit 1947 Cook street 250-388-2200 and make an appointment. Try to collect detailed information about all vaccines you ever got in the past before calling them.

Be healthy and happy, respect and support Canadian doctors, they really need that, especially General Practitioners/Family Doctors!

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