Thousands of Yukoners waiting to be matched with a doctor will not get first dibs at the new bilingual health centre — which hasn’t yet hired physicians even though it’s opening in Whitehorse early next month.
According to an Oct. 27 statement from the department of Health and Social Services, there are currently 3,341 people on the waitlist for the find-a-doctor program.
The bilingual health centre will accept 150 clients in its first three months.
The question of who will get on as a client at the clinic was brought up by both opposition parties in the Yukon Legislative Assembly on Oct. 26.
Brad Cathers, Yukon Party health critic, put forward a motion urging Minister of Health and Social Services Tracy-Anne McPhee to ensure that people who have registered for the find-a-doctor program are given priority.
In response to a question from the NDP’s Annie Blake, McPhee confirmed Yukoners on the waitlist will not automatically be considered for the clinic.
McPhee said hopeful clients will need to go through another application process specifically for the clinic.
According to an Oct. 24 press release issued by the government, the clinic started taking applications on that day. The application is available in the release. Those who are not initially accepted will be added to a waitlist and notified when space opens up.
McPhee said the matching of individuals with services provided by the clinic is a key part of the process.
Blake compared getting accepted as a patient at the clinic to winning the “health-care lottery.”
Cathers raised the issue again on Oct. 27 when he asked what criteria will be used to choose who gets access to the clinic and how many physicians are currently employed.
McPhee said applications are being reviewed and prioritized by the clinic.
“It will be staffed by nine individuals and two contract physicians. Staff includes a clinic manager, nurse practitioners, a registered nurse, a licensed practical nurse, a social worker and medical office assistants,” McPhee said.
“At this time, no physicians have yet been contracted for that service, but nonetheless, the clinic is going to open and provide the services that are available by nurse practitioners and other nursing staff with respect to primary care.”
She said the Yukon government has budgeted $1.7 million for the development of the centre.
The clinic will open at 102-4149 4th Ave. on Nov. 7.
Contact Dana Hatherly at firstname.lastname@example.org