Whitehorse’s only walk in clinic spared closure

The city's only walk-in clinic has been given a reprieve. The River Valley Medical Clinic would likely have closed at the end of the month, Yukon's health minister Doug Graham confirmed.

The city’s only walk-in clinic has been given a reprieve.

The River Valley Medical Clinic would likely have closed at the end of the month, Yukon’s health minister Doug Graham confirmed.

The clinic’s only doctor – Dr. Shahid Syed – hasn’t completed the required test in time to get his Canadian medical licence. Now he’ll be given a little more than a year to get that done.

Syed was part of a government program designed to bring foreign-trained doctors to the territory.

They were given five years to get the required certification through the Canadian College of Physicians. That timeline was later extended to seven years, Graham said.

Syed’s licence was scheduled to expire Oct. 31, but vocal patients rose up in an effort to stop that from happening.

When the News showed up at the clinic just before closing yesterday, Syed was busy with a patient, but the petition with hundreds of names was there.

“He’s a good doctor. People like him, judging by the number of phone calls and emails I was getting,” Graham said.

The petition praises Syed for his “exemplary service” to the community.

“Dr. Syed has worked tirelessly and has shown great commitment to the people of Whitehorse. He is a dependable and dedicated professional that has nurtured and built a trusting and local following of patients that rely on his wisdom and knowledge,” it says.

“Whitehorse deserves a caring, committed doctor like Dr. Syed. We don’t want to see a different doctor every time we visit a doctor’s office. We want to foster a long-term doctor-patient relationship. The health of our families, children, friends and neighbours depend on this.”

Graham admits that had the clinic closed, the emergency room at Whitehorse General Hospital “simply wouldn’t have been able to handle” the influx of patients looking for non-emergency walk-in care.

The estimated number of patients on file at the clinic is around 6,000.

Graham praised the Yukon Medical Association for working with his department to find a solution.

Graham said his department is working on finding locum doctors to temporarily fill in at the clinic so that Syed can find time to study for the exam.

The next sitting of the national test is scheduled for November 2015, Graham said.

Contact Ashley Joannou at

ashleyj@yukon-news.com