Hospital to receive cash injection

The government is set to shell out $200,000 for mental health.  That’s what it has committed to spend on renovations to the Whitehorse…

The government is set to shell out $200,000 for mental health.

 That’s what it has committed to spend on renovations to the Whitehorse General Hospital to improve mental-health facilities, said Health Minister Brad Cathers.

Cathers made the announcement at the Yukon Medical Association’s annual general meeting on Friday afternoon.

“We have offered funding to the hospital,” said Cathers.

“Those details are being worked out right now.

 “Once those details are hammered out we look forward to making an announcement on that area.”

The government has also committed to minimum wait times for mammography — screening for breast cancer — as well as for other procedures, said Cathers.

“As I alluded to in the speech I gave to Yukon Medical Association, we are committed to implementing a wait-time guarantee for mammography screening,” said Cathers.

“Once the details of that are worked out we will be committed to taking further steps for other procedures.

“Reducing wait times is a top priority for us.”

The government is still committed to establishing a government-funded collaborative practice, said Cathers.

A collaborative clinic — a facility where various health-care professionals work together under one roof — was in all three political parties platforms during the last territorial election.

About two years ago, members of several health professions formed a Yukon collaborative practice initiative.

The group included nurses, doctors, pharmacists, dieticians, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and social workers.

The government will build the practice, said Cathers.

But it has to be careful such a venture doesn’t hurt existing practices, which might impede efforts to draw more doctors to the Yukon, said Cathers.

“It will be a government-run clinic, but I want underline the key fact that it will be something that is an enhancement to the system.”

Another item on the government’s health-care agenda is the Thomson Centre.

Longstanding mould and mechanical problems at the centre will be addressed, said Cathers.

The Thomson Centre was built in 1993.

Contractors and government officials have been studying the problem and the facility will be reopened as soon as it is deemed safe, he said.

“I was through the Thomson Centre a few weeks ago now.

“The source (of the mould) has apparently been identified and addressed, but there is some need to replace some mechanical items.

“It was never built to code, the heating and ventilation and air-cooling system requires upgrading.”

A former government made a political decision not to build the facility according to recognized building codes.

“The government doesn’t have to build to its own building code,” said Cathers.

“A political decision was made by the NDP government of the day not to build it to code, and that is something we face today.”

The government will also consider a proposal by Brian Day, the president of the Canadian Medical Association, who is calling for an end to block-funding practices by government to hospitals.

Block funding occurs when hospitals receive a lump-sum annual budget. Because of this, each patient represents an expense, said Day.

Other developed countries have steered away from such practices and have funded hospitals on a per-patient basis, which has removed wait times, lowered costs and made health care more efficient, said Day, during an interview with the News last week.

The government will investigate, but changes, if any, would be slow, said Cathers.

“Today was the first time I had the opportunity to discuss Dr. Day’s proposal with him,” he said.

“At this point, all I can commit to is that we’re committed to reviewing the suggestions brought forward not only by the (Yukon Medical Association) but the Canadian Medical Association.

“It’s an interesting concept, but if it was determined there was feasibility along those lines there would be a significant amount of work involved.”

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