The Yukon’s minister of Health and Social Services was grilled about the Centre de Santé Constellation Health Centre during question period last Thursday.
The opening of a new bilingual health centre in Whitehorse is a week away, but Tracy-Anne McPhee notified MLAs there are still no physicians contracted for the facility.
The health centre is budgeted for two contract physicians, but those positions are yet to be filled, she told the legislature.
“At this time, no physicians have yet been contracted for that service, but nonetheless, the clinic is going to open and provide the services that are available by nurse practitioners and other nursing staff with respect to primary care.”
The clinic, which has a $1.7-million budget for development this fiscal year, is slated to open next Monday.
It will have a staff made up of nurse practitioners, a registered nurse, a licensed practical nurse, a social worker, a clinic manager and medical office assistants, McPhee said. Presumably, it will also eventually staff two doctors.
Alethea Stobbe, the director of the department’s integrated health services branch, told the Star today the clinic is also looking for an additional nurse practitioner and medical office assistant.
The number of staff and the small space of the clinic’s first temporary office will limit the number of people who will be able to access services initially, she said.
But part-time doctors and nurse practitioners will be able to offer full primary care services while the search for full-time physicians continues.
The minister was responding to questions from Yukon Party MLA Brad Cathers, who said the need for new doctors in the Yukon is imperative.
“We have a situation where, following six years of Liberal inaction on the doctor shortage, we know that there are thousands of Yukoners on the government wait-list for a family doctor,” Cathers said during question period.
“The last number we heard from government was close to 2,500 people.”
Cathers asked how many Yukoners will be accepted to the clinic and how they will be prioritized for acceptance.
“Will the team prioritize children with unique or rare diseases, or will they prioritize seniors or people who are currently accessing health care through the emergency room?” he asked.
“What criteria will the government use to choose which people get to access this new clinic?”
McPhee did not outline those criteria.
Cathers then repeated a question his party had asked the minister earlier in the week: why Yukoners already on the family doctor wait-list must apply separately to the new Constellation Health Centre.
“Applications are being reviewed and prioritized by a team of professionals at the clinic,” McPhee responded.
“Acceptance or wait-list status will be based on the current capacity of the clinic’s primary care providers, alongside pre-established determinants to ensure an equitable and balanced client on-boarding.”
The new clinic will be located at unit 102, 4149 Fourth Ave. It’s taking applications now.
Any Yukoner over 16 years of age with a valid Yukon Health Care Insurance Plan card is eligible.
Accepted clients will be able to access primary health care services in both English and French. There will also be virtual services provided.
The clinic will ultimately move to a permanent location on Quartz Road, beside the Whitehorse Health Centre. That facility is being renovated and will likely open some time in 2023.
A bilingual care centre was part of the Liberals’ campaign platform for the spring 2021 territorial election.