After eight months, the Whitehorse Correctional Centre finally has a new dentist.
Dr. Ron Pearson will start seeing inmates this month.
The jail lost its last dentist on May 9th.
Since then, several inmates have been admitted with dental problems, Whitehorse Correctional Centre superintendent Phil Perrin said in a previous interview.
In the interim, inmates suffering toothaches were given pain medications, said Perrin.
“I don’t know why they had such trouble finding a dentist,” said Pearson, who expressed surprise the jail had been without a dentist since May.
“That’s a long time,” he said.
“It wouldn’t have been that difficult just to approach every one of us with a letter, or something like that.”
Pearson wasn’t contacted until mid-December.
It was Justice communications spokesperson Chris Beacom who made the call.
“The file came to our office earlier in the summer,” said Beacom on Tuesday.
After writing a letter to the Yukon Dental Association, Beacom started making some calls.
“I started phoning one day and it happened,” he said.
“It’s all part of my job.”
Some dentists might be reluctant to take inmates, said Pearson.
“It’s a family practice and you don’t really want inmates mixing with three- and four-year-olds,” he said.
So, Pearson created a set timeframe for prisoners.
He will offer them emergency services for two fixed hours every month.
That’s enough time to see about two patients, he said.
The appointments will mainly be for people in pain, added Pearson, citing toothaches.
He will not be providing ongoing care.
However, if an inmate is in pain, Pearson is willing to make some exceptions.
“I’ll try and fit them in for emergencies,” he said.
It would be easier if the jail had dental equipment onsite, said Pearson.
“That’s what they do in Yellowknife. And the dentist visits the jail as much as once a week.”
Pearson volunteered to help out, “because nobody else would.
“We’ll see how it works out.”