Hope could be in sight for stranded patients

Earlier this month Tamara Horsey got some bad news. Her doctor plans to leave the territory. As of August 15, she will have no doctor.

Earlier this month Tamara Horsey got some bad news. Her doctor plans to leave the territory. As of August 15, she will have no doctor.

She has been told that none of the other doctors at Whitehorse Medical Services, where she is a client, will take her or any of the other stranded patients on.

Currently, no clinics in the territory are recruiting for new patients.

Horsey worries about where she will go for routine and preventative care after the summer, she said.

“The ER is already swamped with problems … and now they’re going to get even more swamped with people with sniffles or little tummy aches, because there’s nowhere else for us to go.”

The Yukon News reported last week that the emergency room at Whitehorse General Hospital continues to deal with a significant number of highly intoxicated individuals who can’t get the care they need elsewhere.

“It’s a really terrifying situation to have,” said Horsey. “Basically you’re only going to be seen if you have a serious emergency, and by then it could be too late. Like with breast cancer or something, somebody gets so sick and they go in, ‘Oh, you have breast cancer, but we didn’t find it soon enough and now you’re hooped.’”

Horsey was a patient of Dr. Bruce Todd, who retired last year, for all of her life.

His practice was taken over by Dr. Shauna Tierney, who was new to the territory and signed on for a term.

Dr. Tierney has decided to move on after the completion of her term for personal reasons.

“It’s a really frustrating situation,” said Horsey. “There’s no blame to be laid, because I can’t really say that it’s anybody’s fault.”

But there could be hope for Horsey and the other stranded patients.

By all accounts the doctor shortage has eased over the past year.

As of July 2013, 1,500 Yukoners had signed up for a doctorless patient registry with the Yukon government.

“Doctors put a big dent in the 1,500 patients on the Yukon government registry since January 2014,” wrote Dr. Ken Quong, president of the Yukon Medical Association, in a recent email. “Two new doctors alone have taken on over 600 of those patients. They have paused in their uptake to get the current patients sorted out before opening up again.”

And although no clinics are advertising openings, some people continue to be signed up with doctors, he said.

“There are doctors accepting new patients every day into their practices,” wrote Quong. “For example when new mothers give birth, the families are most often taken on into practices. Every day, patients are taken on for follow-up from the emergency room.”

And new doctors are expected, he said. The Klondyke Medical Clinic, where he works, is on track to have three doctors accepting new patients in the late summer.

“There will always be doctors leaving the territory and doctors retiring,” wrote Quong. “The YMA continues to successfully recruit new doctors.”

The Yukon government employs a physician recruitment and retention officer, who also works to bring new doctors to the Yukon.

According to the YukonMD website, Whitehorse Medical Services, Taiga Medical Clinic, Pine Medical Clinic, the Yukon Women’s Clinic and Watson Lake’s Parhelion Medical Clinic are all currently recruiting for new doctors.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Fines for contravening the fire ban start at $1,150 and could go as high as $100,000. File photo
Yukon campgrounds will open on May 1 this year. (Black Press file)
Yukon campgrounds to open early

Yukon campgrounds will open on May 1 this year. The early opening… Continue reading

Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce executive director Susan Guatto and program manager Andrei Samson outside the chamber office in downtown Whitehorse Feb. 23. (Stephanie Waddell, Yukon News)
When business models shift

Whitehorse chamber offers digital marketing workshop

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The aesthetics and economics of highway strips

One of the many cultural experiences you enjoy while driving from Whitehorse… Continue reading

Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone.
Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone. (Submitted)
Yukon kids express gratitude for nature, pets and friends in art campaign

More than 50 children submitted artwork featuring things they are grateful for

Team Yukon skip Laura Eby, left, directs her team as Team Northern Ontario skip Krysta Burns looks on at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary on Feb. 22. (Jeff McIntosh/CP)
Team Yukon reports positive experience at Scotties

Team Yukon played their final game at the national championship in Calgary on Thursday afternoon

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Ranj Pillai speaks to media about business relief programs in Whitehorse on April 1, 2020. The Yukon government announced Feb.25 that it will extend business support programs until September. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Government extends business relief programs to September, launches new loan

“It really gives folks some help with supporting their business with cash flow.”

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Bylaw amendment Whitehorse city council is moving closer with changes to a… Continue reading

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

David Malcolm, 40, has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm a police officer after an incident in Whitehorse on Feb. 18. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man resists arrest, assaults officer

A Whitehorse man has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm… Continue reading

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. A site on Robert Service Way near the Alaska Highway has been selected as the future home of Yukon Energy’s energy storage project. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Site selected for Yukon Energy battery project

Planned to be in service by the end of 2022

Most Read