After 17 years, Dr. Ewan Affleck has closed his practice with Yellowknife Primary Care Centre.
Affleck told patients recently that he would no longer take regular appointments after Aug. 31. He will continue living in Yellowknife working part-time shifts at Stanton Territorial Hospital and will serve as a senior medical adviser for health informatics at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta.
“This is very bittersweet and I love primary care,” Affleck said, adding he wants to thank the community for their support. “It was time for a change in my life, but it was not without significant regret. It is sad to step away.”
Family physicians typically have a generic role that involves taking shifts in the hospital in a variety of ways such as delivering babies, travelling to communities or working in emergency. Affleck couldn’t give a precise number of family physicians in Yellowknife currently, but he said the number has fluctuated over his time in the North and that there remains a shortage of doctors in many locations.
“Primary care in Canada is a hard thing to do and it is a problem across the country that there are shortfalls in service,” he said. “A source of frustration is that it is difficult to administer and manage and it is a complex work environment.”
Affleck, who came to Yellowknife in 2001, has worked in primary care for 25 years including stints in Northern Ontario and the Keewatin in the Central Arctic.
Affleck said his practice covers 1,000 people that includes patients in Yellowknife and in smaller NWT communities. He estimates he cares for up to 25 patients daily, both in person and virtually.
During his time in Yellowknife, he has run the drop-in clinic at the Centre for Northern Families for 17 years every Tuesday.
“That is probably the most satisfying and important thing that I have done,” he said.
He has also served in a number of administrative roles including as a medical director and chief medical officer among the physician community.
His educational background includes a bachelor of science, a medical degree and a specialty in family medicine. At 55-years-old, Affleck, along with his wife Susan, has raised two children – daughter Anika, who is currently in business school, and son Zander, who’s following in his father’s footsteps and attending medical school.
“Yellowknife is a wonderful place and I love the North, and I don’t really care to leave here,” said Affleck. “I had some new opportunities that, after 25 years, seemed healthy to change things up.”