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Orthopedic team completes the Yukon's first total hip replacement surgery

Broader scope of orthopedic care now available closer to home


Yukon Hospitals’ orthopedic care team completed the territory’s first ever total hip replacement surgery on Monday, November 29 at Whitehorse General Hospital.

The procedure marks an important milestone for the orthopedic program, which has steadily and successfully expanded its scope of services for Yukoners in the last several years.

“Our team has been working hard to develop the Yukon’s first total hip replacement program,” says Dr. Scott Westberg, who helped complete the operation on Monday. “Hip replacement surgery is essential to any community orthopedic practice and we’re excited to be part of this monumental step in local orthopedic care. Providing this procedure in territory means an improved patient experience with shorter wait times and care closer to home for Yukoners.”

Yukon Hospitals’ vision for the orthopedic program is to provide comprehensive elective joint (knee and hip) replacement surgeries and emergency orthopedic care, while also minimizing travel and wait times.

In just the last four years, nearly 500 urgent orthopedic cases have been cared for in Whitehorse, which means fewer medevac trips south for patients and families, improved continuity of care and an overall better patient experience.

As the need for orthopedic care increases with the Yukon’s aging population, expanding access closer to home also helps keep wait times low for hip and knee replacement surgeries, and decreases the need for visiting specialists from out of territory.

“Along with tremendous support from our surgical services and OR staff, we’re proud to partner with physicians and the Government of Yukon to strengthen and expand this vital service for Yukoners,” says Allan Lucier, Chair, Yukon Hospital Corporation. “Now, more patients can access these procedures and recover right here in the Yukon, and I’m confident the team will continue to deliver safe and excellent orthopedic care for many years to come.”

“This is incredible news and the expansion of this type of care aligns with one of the recommendations in Putting People First, which is to provide a continuum of care close to home for all Yukoners,” says Minister of Health and Social Services, Tracy-Anne McPhee. “We are doing exactly that by providing comprehensive elective joint (knee and hip) replacement surgeries and emergency orthopedic care right here in our territory.” 

Congratulations to the orthopedic and surgical services teams on this accomplishment, and to all teams whose strong support made this possible, including Medical Rehabilitation Services, Pharmacy, Medical Imaging and Laboratory, Registration, Environmental Services, Medical Device Reprocessing and Materials Management.

About the Orthopedic Program
  • Orthopedic surgeons work with patients who have disorders of the bones, joints, ligaments, tendons and muscles.

  • Yukon Hospitals’ resident surgeons provide comprehensive orthopedic services, including non-invasive care, elective (planned) and emergency surgery.

  • The orthopedic program aims to improve access to care, minimize travel out of territory, and decrease wait times for consults and the development and initiation of treatment plans for Yukoners.

  • The program is managed through a partnership between Yukon Hospitals, the territory’s resident orthopedic surgeons and the Department of Health and Social Services. 

  • General orthopedic procedures in the Yukon have increased from 374 cases in 2016-17 to 506 cases in 2020-21.

  • Total knee replacement surgeries in the Yukon have increased from 30 in 2016-17 to 100 expected total knee or hip replacements in 2021-22.

  • Since 2017-18, 495 urgent orthopedics procedures have been cared for in the Yukon.