While visiting my feisty mom in the Thomson Centre this week, I read the spring 2015 Yukon Continuing Care Resident and Family newsletter from Cathy Morton-Bielz, assistant deputy minister of the Department of Health and Social Services’ continuing care branch.
The newsletter states the plans for the “Whistle Bend care facility.” Since the proposed 150/300 bed continuing care facility in Whistle Bend has been in the news of late, I have had numerous discussions with fellow Yukoners.
It is apparent that the need for this facility is extraordinary and it is urgent. It is also apparent that the current government has neglected this need for years and has failed to assign this project its deserved priority.
It is important to appreciate that a project to build a continuing care facility is unique and one of the most essential criteria is the site selection. This is not a warehouse that just needs an empty field.
Quoting from “The New Whitehorse Continuing Care Facility Business Case Analysis,” dated July 29, 2014, which is a document used by the Yukon government to support its selection of the Whistle Bend site: “It is recognized that the site is not located in an existing, well-established Whitehorse neighbourhood; a stated priority of the site selection criteria.”
I am overwhelmed as to why the Whistle Bend location was even considered.
Was the site merely chosen as the path of least resistance? Does not the Yukon government own huge parcels of land in the downtown core, minutes from the hospital and other services continuing care residents enjoy?
Not one elder told me they wanted to go to Whistle Bend.
They want to be downtown. And so do their families and friends.
They spoke of their fear of being far away from the hospital.
They spoke of feeling alone ‘out there’.
They spoke of depression.
They also spoke of the days when the White Pass train rolled in and out of town almost daily. They spoke of the time before the Whitehorse dam and the good times at the Whitehorse Inn.
Many had over 60 years of memories of our town by the
river. None had memories of Whistle Bend.
This project demands that we listen to voices of our elders, that we value their needs as the top priority and that we follow the “stated priority of the site selection criteria” and find a location in the downtown core of Whitehorse.
By dedicating a downtown site for this continuing care facility, we are encouraging our elders to actively participate in our social life for as long as possible.