Blog: View from the north - David Pontin

Blog: View from the north - David Pontin 

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Posted on May 03, 2013

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David Pontin, TREKK site lead at Stanton Territorial Hospital in the Northwest Territories

Hello from North of 60!

My name is Dr. David Pontin; I am an emergency physician working in Yellowknife and an enthusiastic supporter of the TREKK initiative. 

In the NWT, we have a small population spread across an enormous geographic area, a basic fact that makes providing timely and effective healthcare to our patients extremely challenging. 

Very few of our communities have road access so many of our patients rely on air links to fly them from their homes to the ER at Stanton Hospital in Yellowknife.  As a result, our medivac and medical travel costs are the largest part of our healthcare budget. Much of my job consists of talking with nurses who staff health centers in these small communities to whom I provide medical advice, transportation decisions and moral support. 

Our population is also very young.  I trained in large centers in southern Canada where seeing a pediatric patient could be a rare and often anxiety provoking experience.  In the north I often feel like I work in a pediatric ER where most of my sickest patients are kids.

My colleagues and I are hopeful that the TREKK initiative will help bridge the gap between the remote periphery and the large urban center. There are many very dedicated nurses and physicians working all across Canada’s North who have many of the tools but lack the cutting edge knowledge that may be available in the large urban centers. 

In the NWT, even the smallest most isolated communities now have access to the Internet.  We’re hoping that TREKK will support not only our Yellowknife ER staff but also the health center nurse working alone and caring for sick children in these small remote communities.

Looking forward to what lays ahead.