Dentists return to Deh Cho
Contract signed with University of Manitoba after two-year lapse in service

Derek Neary
Northern News Services

Fort Simpson ( May 19/00) - People in the Deh Cho will soon be hearing the sounds of dental drills and suctions.

A dentist has been contracted for the region, said Kathy Tsetso, chief executive officer of Deh Cho Health and Social Services.

The University of Manitoba has been selected to provide dental services to the region, except in Fort Providence, where the Hay River Dental Clinic will continue to make visits, according to Tsetso.

She has asked the team to make its first trip by late June or early July.

"I'm pretty excited ... it's another Northern recruitment and retention issue along with nurses and doctors," she said.

"We're just grateful we have something because we haven't had any formal contract for dental services in Fort Simpson for two years. Hay River has essentially come in and provided that without contract."

The last visit from the Hay River team was in March.

Tsetso could not say whether the new dental services will be better or worse than that provided over the past few years. A dental hygienist will accompany the dentist, as was the case before, she added.

"We'll just have to wait and see, but they're really enthused," she said.

The number of visits per community is based upon the number of status people, Tsetso explained. In Fort Simpson the number of days is 30, while in Fort Providence it's 40 days, she said.

The federal government, which funds the contract, gave its written approval as of Monday, she said. The Deh Cho Health and Social Services board is responsible to cover the costs of travel, per diem and translation services, when required.

The position had gone out to tender in late January, but no sufficient proposals were submitted. The Medical Services Branch, a federal department, then forwarded the names of several candidates in Manitoba and Alberta.

The same team also serves the Kivalliq and Baffin regions, she added.