Solving our health care challenges – together

Mike Nixon, MLA for Porter Creek South As submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, July 22, 2016
by Mike Nixon, Minister of Health & Social Services

Increasing access to vital health services and improving care for Yukoners has always been a priority for our government.

This week, Premier Darrell Pasloski and I, along with the Yukon Hospital Corporation, were pleased to announce another step forward for our government as we continue to provide a high level of care to Yukoners in need.

We are creating more continuing care beds, adding additional home care supports, and increasing supports for those already in care. And we are doing all this in the next 90 days.

Recently, bed shortage pressures at the Whitehorse General Hospital (WGH) came to the forefront. Acute-care beds required for surgery recovery and treatment were occupied by Yukon seniors requiring long-term care.

Yukon has 193 continuing-care beds for individuals who require extensive care and cannot be maintained through Home Care Services. These long-term care beds are fully occupied, and the waiting list continues to grow.

Those awaiting a place in long-term care are often unable to remain in their own homes, so they are accommodated in acute-care hospital beds. This has increased pressure not only on hospital staff, but on other patients as well.

We are pleased that this challenge was met with an impressive response by Health and Social Services officials, and hospital staff and administrators.

Doctors, nurses, and department officials were able to come together and find solutions that will help tackle the obstacles we face day-to-day, while ensuring that each and every Yukoner has the level of care they deserve.

As a result, our government has a plan to address growing pressures at the Whitehorse General Hospital, to support our health-care professionals, and to provide more continuing care beds across the territory.

With an investment of up to $5 million, our plan forward will improve the situation in a variety of areas.

The most significant will be the addition of a 10-bed unit in the Thomson Centre in Whitehorse. Renovations are starting immediately, and these vital beds will be available to patients by October.

To support our hospital staff, new programming will enable continuing-care staff to provide support to the patients who must remain in the hospital. This will allow hospital staff to focus on their acute-care patients and on emergency admissions.

In addition, over the last several years we have consistently increased home-care services, but more recently, in listening to feedback from Yukoners, we will be extending service hours to evenings and weekends for those who require it. WGH will continue to ensure the safe discharge of long-term care patients with the necessary supports, and the extension of home-care hours will ensure they receive an adequate level of care at home with their families.

With this plan, we are able to build upon the hard work of hospital, home-care and continuing-care staff and increase their capacity so that all Yukoners receive an appropriate level of care as they wait for placement in a continuing care facility.

Our collective actions to address this pressure are only one aspect of our government’s larger continuing-care commitment. We are seeing that Yukoners can trust this government to take action on the issues that affect the daily lives of our families and friends.

I am extremely proud of the efforts from those working tirelessly to alleviate bed pressures at the hospital and our other care facilities.  I want to thank all the doctors, nurses, departmental staff and leaders who were brought together in developing this plan, to find short-term solutions as we await the opening of our much needed Whistle Bend facility in 2018.