Doctors deluged with drunks

The Yukon government is doing nothing to deal with the territory's alcohol problem, according to the Yukon Medical Association. Instead, it's employing stopgap measures.

The Yukon government is doing nothing to deal with the territory’s alcohol problem, according to the Yukon Medical Association.

Instead, it’s employing stopgap measures.

Next Monday, the Whitehorse General Hospital will begin a new two-tiered system to deal with its overcrowded ER.

The temporary system, which will only run this summer, will add an additional nine-hour shift – and therefore another doctor – to the ER.

This system was initially touted by the hospital and Health and Social Services as a way to deal with the closure of several local walk-in clinics.

Patients without a family doctor in Whitehorse could use the ER as a walk-in clinic from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

But the closed walk-in clinics won’t have that big an impact on the hospital, according to medical association president Rao Tadepalli.

“It’ll have a little impact, but not a big impact,” he said.

“The main issue is that the government hasn’t really sorted out the alcohol problem.”

Alcoholism is a major health problem, asserts Tadepalli.

But it’s a problem of the disadvantaged and doesn’t affect the majority of the population directly.

However, it has an effect on health-care workers every day.

And it also affects anyone who needs to use the hospital in an emergency, dealing with tired hospital staff and full ER beds.

The Yukon Medical Association fully supports the report written by the Task Force on Acutely Intoxicated Persons at Risk, co-chaired by Whitehorse physician Dr. Bruce Beaton and Champagne and Aishihik First Nations Chief James Allen.

That report was released early this year.

It recommended the government alleviate the staffing and resource crisis in the hospital’s ER.

It also recommended a sobering centre be opened in downtown Whitehorse, where acutely intoxicated people can be taken when detained by police. Currently, these people are brought to the hospital.

More than six months later, the government has yet to act upon these recommendations.

“What they should be doing is taking over the (old) Canadian Tire building or the Westmark Inn and put in a sobering centre staffed by qualified medical personnel,” said Tadepalli.

“And Mr. Pasloski should be announcing that. He’s had a downtown business, he knows the problem firsthand, that’s what he needs to do.”

Tadepalli took part in the NDP’s discussion of the Beaton/Allen report last month.

Territorial Liberal leader Arthur Mitchell was there, but no members of the Yukon Party made an appearance.

“They’re ignoring it totally,” said Tadepalli.

The problem with alcoholism in the ER is fairly constant, but it varies.

Doctors in the ER are dealing with intoxicated people about 10 to 30 per cent of the time.

“We’re not really doing anything to help them,” said Tadepalli.

“We’re just seeing these patients and then we’re sending them away and then they get drunk and we see them again.”

Contact Chris Oke at

Just Posted

Whether the dust jacket of this historical novel is the Canadian version (left) or the American (right), the readable content within is the same. (Michael Gates)
History Hunter: New novel a gripping account of the gold rush

Stampede: Gold Fever and Disaster in the Klondike is an ‘enjoyable and readable’ account of history

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Your furnace and your truck need to go

Perhaps the biggest commitment in the NDP deal with the Liberals was boosting the Yukon’s climate target

Awaken Festival organizers Meredith Pritchard, Colin Wolf, Martin Nishikawa inside the Old Firehall in Whitehorse on May 11. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Performing arts fest plans to awaken artistic talent in Whitehorse and the rural North

‘A value of ours is to make theatre as accessible as possible.’

April Mikkelsen tosses a disc during a ladies only disc golf tournament at Solstice DiscGolfPark on May 8. John Tonin/Yukon News
Yukon sees its first-ever women’s disc golf tournament

The Professional Disc Golf Assocation had a global women’s event last weekend. In the Yukon, a women’s only tournament was held for the first time ever.

Dave Blottner, executive director at the Whitehorse Food Bank, said the food bank upped its services because of the pandemic. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Food Bank sees Yukoners’ generosity firsthand

“Businesses didn’t know if they could stay open but they were calling us to make sure we were able to stay open.”

A prescribed burn is seen from the lookout at Range Road and Whistle Bend Way in Whitehorse May 12. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Editorial: Are you ready for a forest fire?

Citizens for a Firesmart Whitehorse have listed some steps for Yukoners to boost safety and awareness

Caribou pass through the Dempster Highway area in their annual migration. A recent decision by the privacy commissioner has recommended the release of some caribou collar re-location data. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News)
Privacy commissioner recommends release of caribou location data

Department of Environment says consultation with its partners needed before it will consider release

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Family pleased youth will be able to get Pfizer vaccine

Angela Drainville, mother of two, is anxious for a rollout plan to come forward

Safe at home office in Whitehorse on May 10, 2021. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Federal government provides $1.6 million for Yukon anti-homelessness work

Projects including five mobile homes for small communities received funding.

Drilling at Northern Tiger’s 3Ace gold project in 2011. Randi Newton argues that mining in the territory can be reshaped. (Yukon government/file)
Editorial: There’s momentum for mining reform

CPAWS’ Randi Newton argues that the territory’s mining legislations need a substantial overhaul

At its May 10 meeting, Whitehorse city council approved the subdivision for the Kwanlin Dün First Nation’s business park planned in Marwell. (Submitted)
KDFN business park subdivision approved

Will mean more commercial industrial land available in Whitehorse

Main Street in Whitehorse on May 4. Whitehorse city council has passed the first two readings of a bylaw to allow pop-up patios in city parking spaces. Third reading will come forward later in May. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Whitehorse council pursuing restaurant patio possibilities

Council passes first two readings for new patio bylaw

Most Read