Here’s an idea, Yukon cabinet: when you have an overwhelming number of Yukon seniors and elders being housed in Whitehorse General Hospital, don’t panic and build a massive continuing care facility in an almost comically ill-suited location.
Instead, ask: why are so many people being channelled into long-term care beds in the first place? Data shows that Yukon has, on average, more seniors in long-term care beds than elsewhere in Canada, and that these seniors are also younger, more independent, and more mobile.
Despite these irritating facts, our endearingly befuddled cabinet has decided that a 300-bed, three-storey continuing care facility, that is projected to cost over $300 million when all is said and done, is what Yukon seniors and elders need most.
Even better, they’ve chosen to brighten up the lackluster development of the Whistle Bend subdivision by fast-tracking the first phase of this construction project, the oft-mentioned first 150 beds. (interesting aside: Whitehorse General Hospital has 55 beds).
Last Thursday, Premier Pasloski spoke with reporters to shine some light on cabinet’s decision-making process around this facility. He said Whistle Bend was selected due to its size, and the “pressing need” to get the project moving full-steam ahead.
Based on documents leaked earlier in the week, it is clear this site was selected against the expert advice of Yukon Health and Social Services staff and private consultants. In fact, the decision to locate the facility in Whistle Bend seems to have been plucked from thin air.
I would argue that the same could be said about the decision to build a 300-bed facility. I have not come across a single government document showing that they ever considered anything other than 300 beds. Not 50, not 100. Not even 200. Only 300.
Sure, Pasloski said that “the determination to build the facility was based on a needs assessment.” But I’ve read this report and the other business cases. And what he calls a “needs assessment” is nothing more than population projections. Zero consideration was given to the state of home care, the availability of assisted living facilities, or the role of discharge planning in helping seniors return home.
In a delightful twist, Pasloski went on to say that “public consultation doesn’t determine whether we need a facility.” Well, whoever thought it would?
A (real) needs assessment would determine whether or not we need a new continuing care facility. Then public consultation would help determine what kind of a facility to build.
Here’s hoping cabinet figures out these basic tenets of responsible governance before it’s too late.