Docs push Pasloski on addiction and helmets

Dr. Rao Tadepalli has one request for Premier Darrell Pasloski - adopt the Beaton/Allen report.

Dr. Rao Tadepalli has one request for Premier Darrell Pasloski

– adopt the Beaton/Allen report.

The 32-page document, tabled almost a year ago, urges the Yukon government to build a sobering centre downtown to support the Yukon’s chronic alcoholics and addicts.

Tadepalli knows many of them personally.

Working in the hospital’s emergency room, the president of the Yukon Medical Association sees chronic addicts and alcoholics daily.

“It’s a revolving door,” said Tadepalli.

And the hospital doesn’t have the staff, space or security to deal with them, he said.

On Friday, Tadepalli urged Pasloski to move on the report’s recommendations.

And he wasn’t alone.

The president of the Canadian Medical Association was in Whitehorse to talk about health care with Tadepalli and the premier.

And he didn’t mince words.

“There’s no vision,” said John Haggie.

“It’s all knee-jerk reactions, based on the current hot topic.

“And we come at it from silos.”

Without proper community supports, including home care, sobering centres and addictions treatment, all these patients end up in the hospital, he said.

In Canada, more than 25 per cent of hospital beds are filled by patients who don’t need acute care, said Haggie.

Whitehorse is no exception.

The Beaton/Allen report – tasked with studying the Yukon’s acutely intoxicated –

came up with 12 recommendations that include a sobering centre, rewriting the Yukon Liquor Act, creating a street outreach team and building a shelter that accepts intoxicated clients.

But its No. 1 recommendation

– which it stressed should take precedence over all others – was to “alleviate rapidly the staffing and physical resource crisis” caused by “acutely intoxicated persons at risk in the (Whitehorse) emergency department.”

During it’s annual general meeting Friday, the Yukon Medical Association voted unanimously, asking the Yukon government to adopt the recommendations in the report “in a timely fashion.

“I am also writing a letter to the new Health minister, asking him to respect the wishes of the doctors,” said Tadepalli.

Pasloski knows report author Dr. Bruce Beaton personally, added Tadepalli.

“So he respects (Beaton’s) opinions and knows the importance of his recommendations.”

Crediting recommendations from the report, the government has already announced plans to build a secure assessment centre at the new jail by the spring of 2012.

But the Beaton/Allen report advised against building the sobering centre at the jail.

It’s not downtown, as the report recommended.

It is not a medical detox, also recommended.

It will not be attached to a detox, which was recommended.

And it will only accept people who’ve been picked up by the RCMP.

“We need to be talking to the people who need health care, and the people on the ground trying to deliver it,” said Haggie.

“Because throwing money at a problem without a plan, just doesn’t work.

“You need a vision.”

Canada is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, he said.

“It’s just a matter of willpower, and thinking beyond government’s four-year term.”

Pasloski spoke at the Yukon Medical Association’s meeting, but did not stay to hear Haggie’s keynote address.

He also turned down an invitation to have dinner with Tadepalli and Haggie, according to cabinet spokesperson Elaine Schiman.

Pasloski was not able to comment for this story, she said.

During the medical association meeting, Yukon doctors also voted unanimously in support of a helmet law for ATVs.

“It’s something (cabinet minister) Brad Cathers has spoken against,” said Tadepalli.

The Yukon doctors are waiting to hear back from cabinet on both requests.

Contact Genesee Keevil at