Concordia Health Services refers student to “unprofessional” clinic

An out-of-province student was charged $150 with no receipt, for lacklustre service and a prescription of Reactine

Crescent Medical Clinic is one of the two clinics Concordia Health Services refers students to. Photo Stella Mazurek

Fresh into the semester, Olivia Steer, a second-year out-of-province full-time Concordia student spent days coping with a full-body rash and hives. 

When Steer began to miss classes as a result of her ailment, she sought refuge in Concordia Health Services (CHS). CHS is available to all students who pay their Student Service fee which is the sum of $11.11 per credit each semester.

On Sept. 29, Steer described her symptoms to a CHS nurse. After examination, the nurse advised Steer to see a doctor. However, Steer visited CHS on a Friday and the clinic only schedules doctor appointments Monday through Thursday. The nurse then handed Steer a sheet with two referral clinics listed: Queen Elizabeth Health Centre and Clinique Médicale Crescent, to which Steer called the latter of the clinics listed and booked an appointment. Steer was met with disappointment after CHS referred her to a clinic where their quoted client testimonials are dummy text, and the attributed photos are stock images. 

Steer eventually arrived at the clinic at around 4:10 p.m. As she walked in, she felt uneasy. Steer notices printouts that read “seven dollar Botox,” and that the clinic was packed. Those who were unable to take a seat on the chairs provided stood or sat on the floor. As she checked in with the front desk, Steer clarified she is an out-of-province patient, to which the receptionist told her a fee of $150 is required for the appointment. When Steer said she would pay by card, the receptionist told her it was cash or e-transfer only, mentioning to Steer that there was an ATM across the street.

“I should’ve known just from that,” Steer told The Link.

The receptionist handed her a large printed paper with the email in which to e-transfer. After Steer sent the money, she was subsequently told that there was still a bit of a wait. The receptionist emphasized that the time you booked your appointment is not the time you will receive treatment.

Over five hours of sitting on the floor later, Steer was still waiting. 

Meanwhile, Steer’s mother called the clinic to request a refund for her daughter as the service at this clinic had been anything but timely.

The clinic staff told her mother that there was no need for a refund, and that Steer was already in the doctor's office: Steer was still in the waiting room. 

By the second time Steer’s mother called, “They picked up, said nothing and hung up,” Steer said. “At this point, I’m fed up. This is not worth waiting this long. I could literally have traveled back to Ontario and saw my family doctor for free in that amount of time."

Feeling irritated, Steer requested a refund so she could leave the clinic. Insisting they were unable to e-transfer her back, the receptionist insisted Steer would see the doctor shortly. 

“I don't know why they made it seem [impossible to issue a refund]. They literally refused to give me my money back,” Steer said.

The way the clinic took payments, you were unable to obtain a receipt. In Steer’s case, there was no way to verify that she paid for the service, she was unable to cover the treatment under her insurance.

Once again, Steer requested a refund; she wanted to go home. The receptionist then told her to “wait,” and put Steer in front of everyone who had been waiting longer than her.

By the time Steer met with the doctor, she told him, “before you say anything, I want a refund,” to which the doctor started to diagnose her. Compliantly, she told him her symptoms.

“I don't know why I said anything, I should have kept it quiet,” Steer said. “He (the doctor) just didn't care.” The doctor proceeded to prescribe her Reactine. “I could've gone to a pharmacy, and they could've told me that for free.”

With 111 reviews averaging a 2.3 star rating on Google, Steer questions why Concordia could not conduct a simple background check.

“I feel betrayed,” Steer said. “The fact that Concordia is making people go to this place is very odd. I feel like they haven't had a background check on that place. I think whoever put that place down has never been.”

Steer’s experience is not unique.

Carly Hylton, a Quebec resident, is a registered nurse (RN) who is completing her bachelor’s degree in nursing at McGill. This past June, Hylton booked a blood draw at Clinique Médicale Crescent. 

Hylton described the clinic as strange. 

“It didn't look very hygienic,” Hylton told The Link.

She noticed the clinic was hot, sticky and crammed. The prices for services were slightly higher than other private clinics, the two receptionists were on their phones texting—not really being responsive to patients—and the Botox advertisements plastered around the clinic alarmed Hylton. 

The receptionists were confused about her requests to get her blood drawn. They told Hylton to sit and wait to see a doctor. This weirded Hylton out, she told them that for a blood draw she just needed to see a nurse. 

The receptionist kept asking questions about her blood test, even though it was written on her requisition. “How do you not know what this is?” Hylton said. 

Hylton left as the clinic exhibited “too many red flags.”

“I felt like the environment was very unprofessional, and kind of sketchy [...] I waited for a half hour with no idea of what was happening.”

When told about Steer’s situation, Hylton was shocked.

“As a healthcare professional I am surprised,” Hylton said. “I think it is strange that [CHS] would be referring people to this clinic [...] If I am referring people somewhere I personally check out the place.”

Hylton additionally expressed how prescribing Steer Reactine does not require an in-person physical assessment. “I think Concordia should take a stronger stance on this and help students access good care.”

She mentioned how there are tons of other private healthcare clinics in the downtown area. At a different clinic only minutes away, Hylton got her blood drawn “quicker,” for cheaper, and in a “clean environment.”

Concordia spokesperson Vannina Maestracci said Concordia has never received any formal complaints about this clinic, and only removes clinics from their reference list if they are told the clinic engages in problematic practices.

Clinique Médicale Crescent declined The Link’s interview request.

This article originally appeared in Volume 44, Issue 4, published October 17, 2023.