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Rankin Inlet mother decries lack of anesthesia services

In so much pain and swelling, her daughter can barely eat

Stephanie Ussak can barely drink or eat anymore, her top teeth swollen to the point of constant pain.

Allergic to antibiotics, Ussak has been treated solely with Tylenol and Advil the past three years.

Her mother, Clarissa Ussak, is at her wit’s end and just hoping her daughter gets the help she needs when they finally head south for dental treatment in May.

“Even to feed from me, she’s having trouble,” Clarissa said.

Her daughter, at three years old, is too young to have her teeth removed in Rankin Inlet due to the lack of anesthesia services in the community, Clarissa explained. She’s been to appointment after appointment with the health centre and dental clinic, struggling to get a referral to Winnipeg so her daughter can get the treatment she needs.

“The sleepless nights due to her pain is getting out of hand,” said Clarissa. “I am her only parent who is her full-time caregiver. I wish Rankin Inlet would get the proper care for anesthesia in the community so we wouldn’t need to wait so long for a child who is in pain.”

Clarissa couldn’t arrange appointments in Winnipeg due to Covid, but she’s finally booked to send her daughter south in late May.

Danarae Sommerville, communications specialist with the Department of Health, stated in an email that the only anesthesia services provided in Nunavut are at the Qikiqtani General Hospital in Iqaluit.

“Currently, there are no plans to provide anesthesia services in any other locations in Nunavut,” wrote Sommerville.

“Anesthesia services for dental procedures are also provided in Ottawa, Winnipeg, Churchill and Edmonton. These services are provided primarily to children aged 12 and under.”

Clarissa bemoans the long wait, fearing for her daughter’s wellbeing, but she’s glad there is a date set at least.

“She will not eat even soft food, even drinks that are room temperature,” said Clarissa, who hopes her daughter’s experience is an eye opener for the need for these services in the Kivalliq.