Health Minister Pauline Frost at a press conference in Whitehorse on May. 9, 2018. Frost announced Meditech upgrades and planning work for a new secure medical unit at the Whitehorse General Hospital this week. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Improvements planned for Whitehorse General Hospital

They include planning, design work for a new secure medical unit and Meditech upgrades

Planning work for a new secure medical unit and information system upgrades are in store at the Whitehorse General Hospital, said Pauline Frost, minister of health and social services.

“Our government is pleased to support the Yukon Hospital Corporation and the replacement of its current hospital information system, Meditech, through the allocation of $7.2 million from the territorial health investment fund,” she said on April 11 in a ministerial statement, noting that YHC has been using the system for almost 20 years.

“Most” departmental client records aren’t electronic, and, if they are, they aren’t “well integrated,” Frost said.

“An integrated electronic health record provides authorized clinicians with a complete and comprehensive near-real-time view of a client’s journey through the Yukon health system,” she said. “In addition to enhancements for clinicians, implementation of an enhanced medical system will include a patient portal that enables clients to easily and securely access their health records online.”

Asked by reporters whether there are any safeguards in place to ensure this type of information is protected, Frost said this model is being used across the country.

“We want to ensure protection of privacy of all clients that come into our care and whatever systems we have in place is state of the art, top of the line that protects individuals’ privacy rights. That’s, of course, one of the key priorities.”

Frost said during her statement that Meditech is used in seven provinces and two territories.

YHC has been given $1 million this year in order to plan and design a new secure medical unit, Frost said.

This is being done because the one used right now “does not meet current client and patient safety standards.”

“The improved space will also accommodate patient dining, a lounge, and a medication room. The hospital is considering the empty space above the emergency department for this new unit,” Frost said. “The creation of an improved secure medical unit at Whitehorse General Hospital will also enhance the hospital’s ability to provide quality health care to patients with mental health disorders.”

NDP House Leader Kate White had mostly positive things to say about both investments, but made note of too many people seeking mental health supports at the hospital.

“I think that it is a bit pre-emptive to pat ourselves on the back when we’re being told about a whole-of-government approach while the government is also overseeing a nearly 50-year-old mental health counselling and support services organization collapse in the Yukon,” she said.

Yukon Party MLA Patti McLeod’s questions included whether $7 million is the projected cost of the secure medical unit. She also asked for operations and maintenance estimates of the medical bay in the future.

Frost didn’t answer McLeod’s questions.

These issues were brought up last month in the legislative assembly, but Frost told reporters the point was to make it clear to Yukoners that her department is working with the YHC to make these improvements happen.

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

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