Whitehorse General Hospital’s expansion is long overdue

Arthur Mitchell I am writing to thank the doctors, nurses and X-ray and imaging technicians for the extraordinary care they provided me during my five-day stay in Whitehorse General Hospital this winter. Like many Yukoners, I caught a terrible cold in Ja

COMMENTARY

by Arthur Mitchell

I am writing to thank the doctors, nurses and X-ray and imaging technicians for the extraordinary care they provided me during my five-day stay in Whitehorse General Hospital this winter.

Like many Yukoners, I caught a terrible cold in January that developed into bronchitis and pneumonia. When it became clear that my illness was not going to resolve itself without intervention, I saw my family physician, who ordered a chest X-ray to confirm the diagnosis and prescribed a course of antibiotics.

Nevertheless, the illness and accompanying hacking cough persisted into February, while I tried to fulfill work commitments without taking too much time off. Because I was so sick with the pneumonia and coughing constantly, I ignored symptoms of another condition, ascribing periodic abdominal pain as the result of the constant coughing. Finally, on Rendezvous Friday, I was forced to leave work and go to the hospital emergency room.

From the moment I arrived, on a busy Friday afternoon, I received the utmost care and attention from the emergency room doctors, nurses, and X-ray and other imaging technicians. Despite working in an overcrowded and poorly designed workspace, everyone provided the most professional and considerate care possible.

After a number of tests, I was admitted with a diagnosis of a severely inflamed and infected gall bladder that needed to be surgically removed. That led to a consultation with long time surgeon (and friend) Dr. Dave Storey, who explained that he would need to remove the gall bladder, but hoped to first treat the infection, so that the surgery could be done with a less intrusive laparoscopic procedure.

Unfortunately, as is often the case, WGH was completely full, and there were no beds available on the surgical ward, so I spent my first night on a gurney in the ER / Day Surgery area, where there is constant noise and little chance of sleep. I was on an IV, receiving both fluids and antibiotics to try to treat the infection. Eventually, on Saturday, I was moved to a regular hospital bed in the surgical ward, and Dr. Storey successfully performed the necessary surgery Sunday morning.

Again, I received the best possible treatment from all the nurses on the surgical ward, who were always considerate and cheerful. Of course, I benefited from Dr. Storey’s surgical expertise, and got to enjoy his great sense of humour as well. I doubt that any southern surgeons announce it is time to fish or cut bait, while wearing a Leatherman tool, which I appreciated his not using! And how many outside surgeons would draw an anatomical diagram of all the abdominal organs, and then conclude by announcing, “This is what Hoss Cartwright, from Bonanza, died from!” I’ve known Dave Storey for a long time, and never tire of his great sense of humour.

I am extremely grateful for the extraordinarily considerate and professional care I received from everyone I met at Whitehorse General Hospital. And I’m not writing to complain about having to spend the first night in the ER. Rather, I saw it as an example of what happens to so many hospital patients, because we have waited so long for the overdue expansion project at WGH that is, at long last, underway.

For too many years, WGH’s medical professionals have laboured under the most difficult working conditions. It is unfortunate that the hospital renovations were postponed for so long, but it’s imperative that no matter the results of this year’s territorial election, they be completed as expeditiously as possible.

I understand there are also staffing issues in the ER and elsewhere at WGH that urgently require addressing. I urge the Yukon government to listen to the nurses, the doctors and the other medical professionals and ensure that their input is incorporated into both the construction project and the staffing decisions.

WGH is the only Yukon hospital where general surgery, orthopedic and specialty surgery is performed, and serves the entire Yukon community. Yukoners deserve the best possible treatment. Our medical professionals provide that great treatment, but the facility is sorely overtaxed.

Arthur Mitchell is a former leader of the Yukon Liberal Party. He lives in Whitehorse.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Crystal Schick/Yukon News file
Runners in the Yukon Arctic Ultra marathon race down the Yukon River near the Marwell industrial area in Whitehorse on Feb. 3, 2019.
Cold-weather exercise hard on the lungs

Amy Kenny Special to the Yukon News It might make you feel… Continue reading

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
YUKONOMIST: The Neapolitan election

Do you remember those old bricks of Neapolitan ice cream from birthday… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
This week at city hall

A look at issues discussed by Whitehorse city council at its April 6 meeting.

Two people walk up the stairs past an advance polling sign at the Canda Games Centre on April 4. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
April 12 is polling day: Here’s how to vote

If in doubt, electionsyukon.ca has an address-to-riding tool

Yukon Party leader Currie Dixon addressing media at a press conference on April 8. The territorial election is on April 12. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Getting to know Currie Dixon and the Yukon Party platform

A closer look at the party leader and promises on the campaign trail

lwtters
Today’s Mailbox: Rent freezes and the youth vote

Dear Editor, I read the article regarding the recommendations by the Yukon… Continue reading

Point-in-Time homeless count planned this month

Volunteers will count those in shelters, short-term housing and without shelter in a 24-hour period.

The Yukon’s new ATIPP Act came into effect on April 1. Yukoners can submit ATIPP requests online or at the Legislative Assembly building. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News file)
New ATIPP Act in effect as of April 1

The changes promise increased government transparency

A new conservancy in northern B.C. is adjacent to Mount Edziza Provincial Park. (Courtesy BC Parks)
Ice Mountain Lands near Telegraph Creek, B.C., granted conservancy protection

The conservancy is the first step in a multi-year Tahltan Stewardship Initiative

Yukon RCMP reported a child pornography-related arrest on April 1. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press file)
Whitehorse man arrested on child pornography charges

The 43-year-old was charged with possession of child pornography and making child pornography

Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Whitehorse. The postponed 2022 event in Wood Buffalo, Alta., has been rescheduled for Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, 2023. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News file)
New dates set for Arctic Winter Games

Wood Buffalo, Alta. will host event Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, 2023

Victoria Gold Corp. has contributed $1 million to the First Nation of Na-cho Nyak Dun after six months of production at the Eagle Gold Mine. (Submitted/Victoria Gold Corp.)
Victoria Gold contributes $1 million to First Nation of Na-cho Nyak Dun

Victoria Gold signed a Comprehensive Cooperation and Benefits Agreement in 2011

Most Read