Whitehorse’s only operating walk-in clinic is set to stop accepting new patients this month.
“So right now we are not accepting new patients into the practice. We’re not doing walk-ins for any new patients who are not our patients,” said Seema Sohail, manager of River Valley Medical Clinic.
River Valley doctor Fathi Farhat is closing her practice at the clinic on Aug. 25 because she is leaving the territory. The remaining staff at River Valley will only be able to accept already registered patients, and no walk-ins, until a replacement is found.
River Valley is the only clinic in the capital that accepts walk-in patients.
The clinic almost ended walk-ins in 2014 due to a similar shortage of physicians. Sohail said many of the walk-ins at River Valley already have a family doctor, but need prescription refills or other urgent and small items.
“Right now we won’t be able to do it. We’re in a situation until we get another doctor,” she said.
Dr. Shahid Syed will continue to see patients already registered with the clinic, but unregistered people needing care will need to go elsewhere. For patients without a family doctor who need to access immediate care, their only remaining option is the emergency department at Whitehorse General Hospital.
The Sexual Health Clinic and the Women’s Midlife Clinic are also available to patients with specific needs.
There are 2,125 Yukoners waiting to be paired with a family doctor through the government’s “Find a Doctor” service, according to the Department of Health and Social Services.
Matt Davidson, spokesperson for the Hospital Corporation, said they are aware that the walk-in clinic is closing.
“Since patient volumes are unpredictable, we can’t anticipate them one way or another. What we can control is the care we provide patients who walk in the door, and our teams are prepared to care for anyone who needs it,” said Davidson.
He added that emergency departments in Dawson City, Watson Lake and Whitehorse are ready to accept patients who need care, but “when visiting an emergency department, the critically ill or injured will always receive priority attention.”
The Department of Health and Social Services said they are aware of the situation.
“We are aware that the walk-in clinic is temporarily closing, and we understand that this will create challenges for Yukoners who rely on it for non-urgent primary care,” said acting communications director Clarissa Wall.
“We continue to work on short and long-term solutions that will improve access to care in the Yukon, as we know there are many Whitehorse residents without access to a family physician.”
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