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MLA calls for more doctors visits in small communities

Amittuq MLA Joelie Kaernerk says doctors "rarely" come to smaller communities and is asking the GN for more frequent scheduling.

Amittuq MLA Joelie Kaernerk: People who go to the health centre are sent home with Tylenol instead of seeing a doctor.

In his communities of Hall Beach and Iglulik, Kaernerk said residents go to the health centre due to pain or illness and they are sent home with pills.

"They are usually just given Tylenol when the person really needs to be seen by a doctor. That is the worst problem in the smaller communities," he said in the legislative assembly on Tuesday. "We don’t know who to turn to. They don’t know who to turn to."

Health Minister George Hickes acknowledged the "continual challenge" of ensuring Nunavut has enough doctors to meet needs. The Health department strives for five physician days per month for every 1,000 residents in communities, Hickes explained, while admitting that the scheduling doesn't always work.

He gave an example of how efficient it can be to have a travelling physician, referring to an unnamed community that had 35 patients scheduled to travel to Iqaluit for surgical consults but that number was reduced to just five patients when a visiting doctor examined them.

Hickes said he "looks forward to making improvements" in regards to sending doctors to communities.