Hospital scales back visiting hours

Whitehorse General Hospital will be restricting its daily visiting hours. The hospital used to have completely open visiting hours.

Whitehorse General Hospital will be restricting its daily visiting hours.

The hospital used to have completely open visiting hours.

“We felt there was a need to find a balance that allows adequate time for health-care professionals to provide care and still provide patients with adequate rest and sleep, while encouraging and supporting visitors,” said CEO Joe MacGillivray in a recent news release.

The new visiting hours will run from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

The change wasn’t caused by any one particular incident but a combination of things, said hospital communications Val Pike.

“We just wanted to do it before it became a problem.

“We want to make sure that our patients and staff are safe, especially during the night,” she continued.

“So by having regulated hours we will limit the number of people in the building when they don’t need to be here.”

There will be exceptions to the general visiting hours for patients in pediatrics, maternity and intensive care and for palliative patients, said Pike.

“But most patients don’t need to have visitors throughout the night.”

Nurse education funding

Health and Social Services has extended funding to help Yukon nurses continue their education.

The $210,000 is given to the Yukon Registered Nurses Association each year and then dispersed to individual nurses by application.

Nurses can choose to undertake specialty courses in something like obstetrics, pediatrics or emergency.

Others are using the fund to pursue their university education and complete their bachelor’s or master’s degrees.

“We have a number of people that are doing their nurse practitioner course,” said Patricia McGarr, executive director of the Yukon Registered Nurses Association.

“And we’ve also been able to sponsor workshops and education programs here that a larger number of nurses have been able to attend.”

Some of the money gets put into a refresher fund to aid those that have not been practising but are interested in getting back into nursing.

“Because they have been out for some period of time, they’re not up to date,” said McGarr.

“So the refresher fund can put them through a program that updates their skills and gets them ready for the workplace.”

The program has been running for seven years and has been renewed until 2010.

Last year alone, more than 100 nurses took advantage of the continuing education fund.

The original $135,000 a year was increased to $210,000 last year due to the strong interest in the program.

That means the government is providing roughly $583 for every registered nurse in the territory.

The Yukon Registered Nurses Fund Committee decides who gets the money, based on applications.

Nurses are required to have been living in the territory for a certain amount of time before they can access the money but they are not restricted from leaving once their training is complete.

“But there haven’t been any problems with that,” said McGarr.

“We haven’t had any situations where people have gone and taken education and then left.”

Whitehorse General Hospital recently sent three nurses south for operating-room training, paid for through the Territorial Health Access Fund.

The course started in September and the three nurses will be returning to Whitehorse this summer.