Kitikmeot gets a doctor

by Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

NNSL (Jan 19/98) - Kitikmeot residents haven't had a resident doctor for the last 18 months. That was to change last Thursday.

"When NWT Air lands today our new resident physician (Pradeep Bhanot) should be on it with his family," the head of the

Kitikmeot Regional Health Board said Thursday.

Alice Isnor, the executive director for the board, said while Bhanot and his family did not know it at the time, they were to receive a quick lesson in Northern realities.

The house he and his family were to move into had frozen, leaving hamlet workers scrambling hours before his arrival to thaw it out.

While government cutbacks two years ago have made the North a far less desirable place to work, Isnor's hoping those problems are solved, at least for now.

"Of course, the difficulty is competing for people who can live in a warm, inviting environment with all the amenities," said Isnor. "When we're staffing up here we look for people with a sense of adventure."

The Kitikmeot has a staff of 31 full-time health-care professionals. All but two social services and two nursing positions (one supervisory) are filled. The board is in the process of filling those vacancies.

Vacant positions are staffed by temporary workers from a Saskatoon agency, Nightingale, on contract to the board.

While temporary staffing is helping to fill the gap in health care, it is a remedy not well-received in the North.

"The big issue here really hasn't got anything to do with the board," said Cambridge Bay Mayor Wilf Wilcox.

"Because of government policies they're having a hard time keeping staff," he said. "It's a big concern to the community," said Wilcox. "We like to have our health-care workers stay with us a while."

Holman has been far more fortunate.

"We have two excellent nurses here who are very capable," said Mayor Gary Bristow.

"The major concern people here have with health care is the condition of the boarding home in Yellowknife," Bristow added. "It's too small and it's starting to get run down."

Kitikmeot residents who require advanced medical attention are flown to Stanton Regional Hospital in Yellowknife. While in the city they are housed at the Kitikmeot Boarding Home.