Yukon Hospital Corporation CEO Jason Bilsky, seen here in this 2013 file photo, said that next year they hope to increase the amount of cataract surgeries by 30 per cent. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)

Plan to expedite cataract surgery to be introduced in January

YG and the Yukon Hospital Corporation want to more than double the number of surgeries

The territorial government and the Yukon Hospital Corporation will work together to reduce longer wait times for cataract surgery.

To do this, ophthalmologists visiting the territory, whose work is specific to treating cataracts, will double up, providing five day’s worth of both consultations and surgeries each time they’re in the Yukon (eight times a year).

A separate clinic for retinal therapy will also be created.

The News recently reported that about 350 people were waiting for surgery.

One of those people, Valerie Thomas, 81, who was interviewed by the News, said she can no longer perform basic tasks like reading print and must exercise heightened caution when walking outside.

The plan, which will be rolled out in January, will ensure that wait times for consultation and surgery don’t exceed eight months and that surgeries performed are more than doubled (from 240 to 520).

Next year, surgery will be increased by 30 per cent, said Jason Bilsky, CEO of YHC.

“Hopefully that sustains the wait list going forward, but we’ll just continue to monitor,” he said.

The price tag for the plan is roughly $459,000.

Currently, there are some people who’ve been waiting for the procedure for roughly three years, Bilsky said, adding that the wait list has grown “substantially” over the past 18 months.

There’s a triage system in place, he said, adding that wait times, on average, are about one year, not three.

Part of the reason behind the wait list is a significant influx of people in need of retinal therapy, he said.

“That seems to have taken up a significant amount of the ophthalmologist’s time, which is unrelated to cataracts, for the most part. It’s not allowed enough time to get through the adequate amount of consultations and, ultimately, surgery for cataracts,” Bilsky said.

Brad Cathers, Yukon Party MLA, said while he’s “pleased” with the development, it took too long.

“It shouldn’t have required pressure from the Official Opposition and the media to get the government to act on this issue,” he said. “We’ve raised this, as you know, on multiple occasions. I wrote on behalf of a constituent (Valerie Thomas) back in the summer, Patti McLeod, who’s our health critic, has raised this numerous times in the House, as have I from a finance perspective.”

Asked if he thinks the plan goes far enough, he said time will tell.

“We’ll see what the impacts of it are. It is a good step in the right direction,” Cathers said. “We’ll wait to see the results before weighing in too much on the fine print.”

Bilsky doesn’t think it took long to set the plan in motion.

“Us and government definitely recognize this as a priority and it has a great effect on people’s lives. Any time we can provide this service here rather than have people travelling out was a very key consideration for us,” Bilsky said.

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

Just Posted

Willow Brewster, a paramedic helping in the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre, holds a swab used for the COVID-19 test moments before using it on Nov. 24. The Yukon government is reopening the drive-thru option on June 18. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Drive-up COVID-19 testing opening June 18 in Whitehorse

The drive-up testing will be open from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. everyday and increase testing capacity by 33 spots

A draft plan has been released by the Dawson Regional Use Planning commission on June 15. Julien Gignac/Yukon News
Draft plan released by the Dawson Regional Land Use Planning Commission

Dawson Regional Land Use Commission releases draft plan, Government of Yukon withdraws additional lands from mineral staking in the planning region

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Let them live in trailers

“I found Rome a city of bricks and left it a city… Continue reading

X
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for June 18, 2021.… Continue reading

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Yukon News file)
Yukon logs nine new COVID-19 cases, 54 active cases

More CEMA enforcement officers have been recruited, officials say

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council at its June 14 meeting

Murray Arsenault sits in the drivers seat of his 1975 Bricklin SV1 in Whitehorse on June 16. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Bringing the 1975 Bricklin north

Murray Arsenault remembers his dad’s Bricklin, while now driving his own

A presumptive COVID case was found at Seabridge Gold’s 3 Aces project. (file photo)
Presumptive COVID-19 case reported at mine in southeast Yukon

A rapid antigen rest found a presumptive COVID case on an incoming individual arriving at the 3Aces project

Jonathan Antoine/Cabin Radio
Flooding in Fort Simpson on May 8.
Fort Simpson asked for military help. Two people showed up.

FORT SIMPSON—Residents of a flooded Northwest Territories village expected a helping hand… Continue reading

A woman was rescued from the Pioneer Ridge Trail in Alaska on June 16. (Photo courtesy/AllTrails)
Alaska hiker chased off trail by bears flags down help

ANCHORAGE (AP)—An Alaska hiker who reported needing help following bear encounters on… Continue reading

Two participants cross the finish line at the City of Whitehorse Kids Triathlon on June 12 with Mayor Dan Curtis on hand to present medals. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
2021 Kids’ Triathlon draws 76 young athletes

Youth ages five to 14 swim, run and bike their way to finish line

NDP MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq rises in the House of Commons, in Ottawa on May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
‘Unacceptable’ that Inuk MP felt unsafe in House of Commons, Miller says

OTTAWA—It’s a “sad reflection” on Canada that an Inuk MP feels she’s… Continue reading

Lily Witten performs her Canadian Nationals beam routine on June 14. John Tonin/Yukon News
Three Yukon gymnasts break 20-year Nationals absence

Bianca Berko-Malvasio, Maude Molgat and Lily Witten competed at the Canadian Nationals – the first time in 20 years the Yukon’s been represented at the meet

Most Read