Liberals promise $5 million for ‘collaborative’ health care

The Yukon Liberal Party wants to open a new “collaborative primary health-care facility,” a kind of one-stop medical shop, for about $5…

The Yukon Liberal Party wants to open a new “collaborative primary health-care facility,” a kind of one-stop medical shop, for about $5 million a year.

It would be both a walk-in and an appointment-based facility — a place for non-emergency patients to go.

“It tends to a be a place where people can come in and access the care they need, including physicians,” said Mount Lorne Liberal candidate Colleen Wirth, drawing on her 30 years of experience as a registered nurse.

“They also may need to see a dietician; they may need to see a pharmacist,” Wirth said Thursday.

“It’s under one roof.”

Currently, the only place for Whitehorse patients to go is the Whitehorse General Hospital emergency room, she said.

“Facilities such as this will save us money by decreasing non-emergency visits at the emergency department at the hospital and save us money over the long term by preventing some health problems from occurring.”

The Liberal Party isn’t talking about building a new facility. Instead, it plans to lease a building somewhere in Whitehorse, equip it and staff it with two full-time health-care professionals, with other health care professionals rotating through on a weekly schedule.

A Liberal government would open such a clinic in two years.

“The … facility will provide one option for increasing access to health care,” said Wirth, who worked at Whitehorse General Hospital from 1992 to 1998.

“The cost for the facility will depend on what the locally developed model ends up looking like.”

The collaborative primary health-care approach has been successful in other jurisdictions across Canada, she said.

“The facility would operate entirely within the public health-care system.

“This model is being used in other jurisdictions and has shown benefits for patients and for caregivers.

“Patients receive prompt care and professionals have the opportunity to work in a more holistic environment.”

Before it could be set up, the government would consult private-sector pharmacy businesses, like Shoppers Drug Mart, that already provide medication to the Whitehorse community, and mental-health professionals who lack space for patients, said Wirth.

The Liberals also want to skim one per cent of the annual health-services budget that’s typically worth about $90 million, and put it into a “health-promotion fund” that would “promote increased physical activity and healthy living for Yukoners of all ages.”

“Groups would be able to apply for money under the health-promotion fund for increasing activities, for example recreation programs in communities,” said Wirth.

“Other places have taken six months to target decreased smoking and public education around the effects of tobacco.

“They may want to take a particular point in time to talk about healthy eating, and what does that mean.”

However, the Liberal plan does not directly address the problem of recruiting medical health professionals to work and live in the Yukon.

“The shortage of health professionals has accumulated over time, so we’re not going to be able to do a quick fix,” said Wirth.

“We’ve got people here right now who are interested in moving into this option and working in a different type of practice setting.

“If we can somehow look at the capacity that we have we can see who’s out there.

“I’m told that we also have some nurses who are interested in coming to work in the Yukon right now, but we don’t have full-time positions for them.”

The Yukon Party borrowed a Grit idea when it addressed the recruitment and retention problems in August with a $200,000 fund to pay down debt loads of new doctors — an idea Liberal leader Arthur Mitchell floated in the legislature in December 2005.

The Yukon Party also vowed to re-open the Thomson Centre — which has been closed since 2002 because of mould contamination — early in 2007.

The 44 beds of the Thomson Centre would be used for continuing-care patients.

The Liberals would also open the Thomson Centre to continuing care, said Wirth.

Furthermore, the debt-repayment strategy might be an effective recruitment-retention tool, she said.

“It’s too soon to know the results of that.

“The reality is, we have an increasing number of Yukoners who do not have a physician.

“We’re in a crisis nationally, not just here.

“We need to look at a number of creative solutions, not just one.”

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

Just Posted

Team Togo member Katie Moen sits in a sled behind a snowmobile for the ride from the airport to Chief Zzeh Gittlit School. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Coming together: How Old Crow became one of the first communities in the world to be fully vaccinated

Team Togo and Team Balto assembled with a mission to not waste a single dose of vaccine

Main Street in Whitehorse on May 4. If council moves forward with bylaw changes, eating and drinking establishments could set up pop-up patios in on-street parking spaces. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Patios may be popping up in Whitehorse this summer

City considers program for downtown restaurants and bars

The Yukon Coroner's Service has confirmed the death of a skateboarder found injured on Hamilton Boulevard on May 2. Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News
Whitehorse man dies in skateboarding accident

Coroner urges the use of helmets, protective gear, while skateboarding.

The new Yukon Liberal caucus poses for a photo during the swearing-in ceremony held on May 3. (Yukon Government/Submitted)
Liberal cabinet sworn in at legislature before house resumes on May 11

Newly elected MLA Jeremy Harper has been nominated as speaker.

The Yukon Wildlife Preserve’s baby bison, born April 22, mingles with the herd on April 29. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Yukon Wildlife Preserves welcomes two bison calves

A bison calf was the first 2021 baby born at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve

A map provided by the Yukon government shows the location of unpermitted logging leading to a $2,500 fine. (Courtesy/Yukon government)
Man fined $2,500 for felling trees near Beaver Creek

The incident was investigated by natural resource officers and brought to court.

The site of the Old Crow solar project photographed on Feb. 20. The Vuntut Gwitchin solar project was planned for completion last summer, but delays related to the COVID-19 pandemic pushed it back. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Old Crow is switching to solar

The first phase of the community’s solar array is already generating power.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
One new case of COVID-19 in the Yukon

Case number 82 is the territory’s only active case

Flood and fire risk and potential were discussed April 29. Yukoners were told to be prepared in the event of either a flood or a fire. Submitted Photo/B.C. Wildfire Service
Yukoners told to be prepared for floods and wildland fire season

Floods and fire personelle spoke to the current risks of both weather events in the coming months.

From left to right, Pascale Marceau and Eva Capozzola departed for Kluane National Park on April 12. The duo is the first all-woman expedition to summit Mt. Lucania. (Michael Schmidt/Icefield Discovery)
First all-woman team summits Mt. Lucania

“You have gifted us with a magical journey that we will forever treasure.”

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

Whitehorse goings-on for the week of April 26

The Yukon Department of Education in Whitehorse on Dec. 22, 2020. The department has announced new dates for the 2021/2022 school year. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
Yukon school dates set for 2021/22

The schedule shows classes starting on Aug. 23, 2021 for all Whitehorse schools and in some communities.

Most Read