Stanton Territorial Hospital in September 2022. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio
The NWT government says residents of a dozen communities that previously hosted rehabilitation travel clinics must now travel to Yellowknife or regional centres for those services.
Rehab services help people to regain physical, mental or cognitive abilities that have been lost or impaired. Example services in the NWT are audiology, physiotherapy, speech language pathology, occupational therapy and a persistent pain program.
In a public notice on Friday, the NWT’s health authority said significant staffing shortages were the reason regional rehab teams will now only travel to communities with more than 350 people that are fly-in only or more than a three-hour drive from their base.
In practice, that means there will still be travel clinics for people in Fort Resolution, Aklavik, Ulukhaktok, Norman Wells, Délı̨nę, Fort Good Hope, Tulita, Fort Simpson, Łútsël K’é and Whatì, as well as long-term care residents in Behchokǫ̀ – as long as occupational therapist, physical therapist and speech language pathologist regional teams are adequately staffed.
But the news means residents must now travel to regional hubs for rehab services if they live in Tuktoyaktuk, Fort McPherson, Fort Providence, Fort Liard, Paulatuk, Gametì, Tsiigehtchic, Colville Lake, Sachs Harbour, or Behchokǫ̀ (if not living in long-term care in that community).
The health authority said those residents can access services through medical travel once approved for an appointment or virtually through their local health centre.