Patterson leaving as chief public health officer, replacement named

Dr. Sean Wachtel will be ‘valuable member of public health team’ says health minister

Dr. Michael Patterson, pictured, who served four years as Nunavut’s chief public health officer, is returning to hospital work and will be replaced by Dr. Sean Wachtel, the Government of Nunavut announced Monday. (File photo)

By Nunatsiaq News

Nunavut has a new chief public health officer.

Dr. Sean Wachtel was named Monday as Nunavut’s new chief public health officer. (Photo courtesy of Government of Nunavut)

Dr. Sean Wachtel has been named to the post, replacing Dr. Michael Patterson who served four years in that job and led the territory through the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Nunavut’s Health Department announced Monday.

Wachtel is “well-versed in culturally sensitive and appropriate health services and will be an invaluable member of the Public Health team,” Minister of Health John Main said in a news release.

Wachtel was recently senior medical director for Aboriginal health and medical health officer for the First Nations Health Authority in British Columbia, according to the release.

He said he is eager to pick up on the work of Patterson and looks forward to “working closely with all communities and stakeholders to further promote and protect the health of the Nunavummiut in this beautiful territory.”

Main credited Patterson for “his leadership over the past four years and his commitment to protecting the health and wellbeing of Nunavummiut.”

The release noted Patterson is returning to full-time work at Qikiqtani General Hospital in Iqaluit.

Patterson himself thanked his staff for their contributions, especially through the pandemic.

“Their many contributions have been instrumental in the management and response to public health challenges Nunavut has faced in recent years,” Patterson said in the release.


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(23) Comments:

  1. Posted by Alan Klie on

    I think we should all thank Dr. Patterson for the generally excellent job he did during the COVID-19 pandemic. While I think he took an overly cautious approach later in the pandemic, particularly as it related to when to close down the isolation hubs and vaccination isolation exemptions, at the beginning he made the right calls to keep Nunavut as safe as possible. Good luck to you, Dr. Patterson, and nakurmiik!

  2. Posted by Truestory on

    Shoulda hired a local

    • Posted by Brick short of a load on

      He is local.he lives in Iqaluit. Do you have a point that is not racially charged and simply based on work ethic, dedication to all Nunavumiut and your family personally?

    • Posted by Delusional on

      Curious who you might have chosen?

    • Posted by Northern Guy on

      If you know of any local medical doctors with a specialization in public health please speak up, otherwise no one is interested in your HR advice.

    • Posted by Crystal Clarity on

      That might be the stupidest thing I will hear today, but the day is young.

  3. Posted by John WP Murphy on

    To the Good Doctor

    Thank you, Sir , for your service over the past 4 years.
    The health of all of us depended on your professional expertise and that of your staff in iqaluit and the staff of all the health centers throughout Nunavut .
    The results of Covid could have been much worse had it not been for you and your team of professionals.

  4. Posted by Patti Bligh on

    Thank you Dr. Patterson. There were times in this pandemic where I worried for your health, you looked exhausted and taunt, I thought someone should send you some good Kitikmeot stew and bannock to let you know we appreciated you. You helped guide us, you were a public face for all the Covid challenges that we never ever knew we would have to listen too and follow, and you managed to keep us safe and out of the pandemic until the very end. I am sure you deserve a change, a rest and some sleep. The torch is passed.

  5. Posted by Overreactive on

    I thank the Doctor for his service and efforts. However, I continue to this day to be troubled by his legacy: the disregard of rights and the overnight institution of freedom-infringing policies, including isolating the territory, that have been harmful and continue to have effects on Nunavummuit and their families. The financial cost was also heavy although as usual this was borne mostly by the Canadian taxpayers via no-strings-attached federal “COVID funding”, not Nunavummuit. The human resources cost has also proven high with likely the largest GN staff exodus ever follow restrictions being lifted over the past year, meaning Nunavummuit are more underserved than before. Infrastructure projects came to a standstill and we are behind more than ever. Not all blame is attributable to the CPHO to be sure, but a significant portion of it is because the GN based its approach on his advice.
    Hindsight is a wonderful thing but there was simply no basis for these policies in science at the time, and although I appreciate it was an unprecedented situation I was dismayed by a complete inflexibility on the part of Nunavut to loosen the most draconian of restrictions over time. I mean Nunavummuit were vaccinated for months and months and it made no difference: isolate for 14 days in a hotel room. With more time now having passed it is even more obvious how useless these policies were. Exemptions were granted for high flyers and their sea planes, Canadian North staff who not surprisingly brought the virus in, a massive number of RCMP to take vacations, and departmental senior management to give them a break to see family but not frontline health staff who have since quit. All wonder of contradictions reigned because at their heart the policies were made to try and make people feel secure, not actually do anything. Not a single person was charged with a public health violation!
    Ironically these same policies exist in China under is COVID Zero policies to this day.

    • Posted by Art Thompson on

      Of course there are going to be casual effects regarding some the decisions when you have a world wide pandemic. But this whole argument of infringing upon peoples right is simply ludicrous. Are you saying that the Territory should not have been closed due to Covid to prevent transmission and subsequent deaths. Sounds pretty tone deaf to the realities of this pandemic.

    • Posted by wills on

      Gosh, that was long and full of misinformation and half-truths. But if you don’t get it by now, you’re not going to. Not this way, anyway.

      Comparing health measures here to what’s going on in China. Ask someone living it in China if they think that’s a good comparison. I bet they’ll offer to swap places with you.

      • Posted by Isolation on

        You do realize China requires weeks of isolation in a hotel like we did in Nunavut?

        • Posted by was on

          No, they don’t. They are not isolating in hotels with private rooms and private toilets. They are in large, loud open dormitory style housing with communal bathrooms. People are unable to get their medications when their neighborhoods are locked down, and they have not eased in the slightest during the entire pandemic. The fact that you are able to openly criticize the government and the measures it took to prevent the spread of covid shows that what happened here is nothing attached all like what is going on in China. You poor oppressed person.

  6. Posted by Northern Guy on

    Dr. Patterson’s leadership, expertise and advice during the storm of the early pandemic was critical in ensuring that Nunavut had early and significant access to vaccine stockpiles whilst keeping the number of covid-related outbreaks and serious health issues to a bare minimum. However as the pandemic dragged on his stance on school closures and the isolation hubs ended up negatively affecting many in the territory and I can say with certainty that his office completely mishandled the Iqaluit water crisis.

  7. Posted by Name Withheld on

    I commend Dr Patterson for his dedication these past 4 years. Ayungi!! And welcome to Dr Wachtel !!

    • Posted by Inuk from baffin on

      Its been long enough that he’s been up here, I bet he can pick up inuktitut words now ,

  8. Posted by Jaret the one eyed gopher on

    Fantastic man, smart and saved us during Covid. I’ll be moving on myself now that he’s going. Iqaluit is losing all of its brains the past couple of years as the wise ones get up and leave. How come the city still has dirty water?

  9. Posted by whaaaaattttt??????? on

    Hope they follow through with the statue plan of him supposed to go on the 4 corners.

  10. Posted by Chris on

    Covid wreaked havoc on so many normal processes in 2020/21. Dr. P was very accessible and worked day and night to ensure things went as smooth as possible. It was a pleasure to work with someone so dedicated to the job and the Nunavut community.

    Thank you for your service Dr. Patterson as the CPHO.

    • Posted by Monica A. Connolly on

      Even though I was in Ontario when the pandemic hit, I soon realized I would get the most reasonable explanations of the problems facing us all by watching Dr. Patterson’s TV broadcasts. I much prefer getting medical information from a doctor than from a politician. The byplay between Dr. Patterson and interpreter Ooleepika Ikkidluak kept the mood from being too tragic, while showing consistent respect for the Inuit audience.
      Thanks to both of you for your work in preserving the lives of so many of my friends.

  11. Posted by Confused on

    Thank You Dr. Patterson for looking out for the whole Territory.
    Welcome Dr. Wachtel


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