The Yukon government’s find-a-doctor online portal has matched 436 Whitehorse-area residents with family doctors since its launch in November 2019.
However, more than 750 people are still waiting to be paired with a physician, some of whom signed up shortly after the program was introduced.
Whitehorse resident Jessica Kish told the News she submitted her online application on Jan 3, but, other than a short email exchange confirming a change of address, hasn’t heard anything since then.
Kish said at the time, she was trying to have a baby and wanted to ensure her health was good. She had also been experiencing recurring digestive issues and was seeking help at the hospital emergency room.
“Given the nature of the issue, it would have been very helpful to have some continuity of care and see the same care provider,” she said, adding that when she signed up for the find-a-doctor program, she assumed it would take a month or two to get matched.
As of May 22, Kish still hadn’t been matched with a physician.
“I think care prior to pregnancy is very important, especially when you’re trying to have a baby, so it was disappointing not to find a medical practitioner that was able to support me before my pregnancy,” she said, who’s now five months pregnant.
”But there’s also a lot of individuals in Yukon that have chronic health issues that need a regular doctor, issues that are probably even more serious than pregnancy and they don’t have access to the care they need and that’s really problematic.”
Another Whitehorse resident, Daniel Sokolov, signed up in December 2019, explaining that while he doesn’t “have any things that need continuing attention … it would be nice to have a relationship with a professional.”
He, too, has yet to be matched, but said he wasn’t surprised that he was still waiting.
“I know that it’s not easy in Canada … There are just not enough doctors around and I don’t blame anyone in particular for it,” he said. “It’s just the unfortunate situation, it’s hard to fix.”
In an email, Department of Health and Social Services spokesperson Clarissa Wall said that 1,193 people have signed up for the find-a-doctor program since its launch and that the “matching system is completely randomized,” meaning that a person who signed up right at launch time would have the same chance of being matched as a person who signed up today.
“It was set up this way to ensure that all Yukoners had an equal and fair chance to enroll,” Wall wrote. “It means that applicants who applied late, due to barriers like internet access, won’t be penalized.”
There are currently 18 doctors who are part of the program, each of whom can specify how many matches they want to take from the program every month.
Wall said the department doesn’t have a “complete picture of the average time Yukoners are waiting to be matched.”
“In the coming months, we will be reviewing the program and analysing data, including average wait times, to determine if changes need to be made to improve the experience and outcomes for all participants going forward,” she wrote.
Both Kish and Sokolov said they didn’t know about the lottery-like nature of the program — just that the doctor pairings would be random.
“I’m a little frustrated because there was no followup or communication with me and it would have been nice to receive an update and an explanation of how the lottery process operates,” Kish said.
“Increasing communication, I think, is really important. YG seems to have a practice of surveying Yukoners regularly but ongoing communication seems to be an area of improvement.”
Contact Jackie Hong at email@example.com