The Trials And Tribulations Of Establishing Care When You Move

Leslie Rott Health Guide
  • By far, the most difficult part of moving has been trying to establish care in a new place. 


    Finding a doctor is generally stressful, but finding a new doctor in a new city is extremely stressful. 


    Some people suggest asking your previous doctor – while they are still your current doctor – if they can recommend someone. 


    Unfortunately, my rheumatologist wasn’t helpful in this regard.  Although he has never been very helpful in terms of recommendations.  When I asked him about finding a new primary care doctor, in the same city, a few years ago, he told me there were too many good ones to name.  Not helpful!

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    So I was basically on my own.  I was able to get some recommendations from my boyfriend and his family in terms of primary care doctors.  When I called to get an appointment with the primary care doctor I wanted, I was told she isn’t taking new patients.  She’s not taking new patients, and I am losing mine (patience).


    Then I called to get an appointment with the rheumatologist I wanted to see, and was told he isn’t available until the beginning of December. 


    (Granted, there is no shortage of doctors in New York, but it is frustrating to research and find a doctor you want to see and then be told you can’t.)


    I picked a different primary care doctor, who I was able to see the next week, and who was able to suggest a different rheumatologist – who I could get in to see in November – not great, but better than December.


    I’m waiting until I see my new rheumatologist to get recommendations for other specialists.


    My situation was complicated because not only was I moving, I was also changing insurance.  And I didn’t have my insurance information until school started, which meant that there wasn’t that much I could do ahead of time.  Which meant that I had a feeling I would have some wait time to get in to see doctors.


    My best advice is to start early.  If you are lucky enough to be moving, but keeping your insurance the same, you definitely have a leg up.


    But you should do research to find the place where you want to get care and the doctors you want to see.  And be prepared to hear that you might not be able to get in to see the doctors that you want in a timely manner.  So have a few backups just in case.


    If you can, try and get a recommendation from the doctor you are seeing before you move.  If that doesn’t work, find the primary care doctor you want to see and see if they can give you recommendations of specialists.   


    It’s also complicated based on how many doctors you need.  I need a primary care doctor, rheumatologist, nephrologist, hepatologist, gastroenterologist, and gynecologist, at a minimum.


    The more doctors you need, the more complicated it gets, although it’s slightly easier if you get into a hospital system that has all of these specialists in one place.    


    If you mainly need a primary care doctor and a rheumatologist, it shouldn’t be too bad.  But it depends on where you’re living.


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    One potential of having to find new doctors, though, is that you might find someone who you get along with better than your previous doctor or can better meet your needs.  If you find that you don’t like your new doctor for whatever reason, it’s back to the drawing board.  But you’ll find someone eventually.  And it’s better to have a doctor when things are status quo than having to find one in a rush if something happens.  

Published On: October 05, 2013