New beds for old bodies

The Yukon Hospital Corporation is pushing forward with plans to re-open the Thomson Centre's beds to elderly patients by September. The corporation is seeking bids from local contractors...

The Yukon Hospital Corporation is pushing forward with plans to re-open the Thomson Centre’s beds to elderly patients by September.

The corporation is seeking bids from local contractors to design repairs and upgrades to the building. The total work is expected to cost around $1.5 million.

In December, the territorial government announced plans to open 29 of the building’s 44 rooms to patients.

The centre, which adjoins Whitehorse General Hospital, was built in 1993 as a continuing care facility under Tony Penikett’s NDP government. But it has been plagued with water leaks, mould infestations and other problems.

So, for the past eight years its rooms, built to provide continuing and palliative care to the elderly, have sat empty. The building is currently used as office space and to house physio and occupational therapists.

Extensive work has been done to stop water from seeping through the building envelope. Still, water continues to enter the building through large skylights, which are “either leaking or ‘sweating,’ causing damage to the ceiling finishes,” according to the corporation’s request for proposals.

“We’ll probably take the drywall off around the skylights and check all that, make sure everything is working properly,” said project manager Michael Cowper.

“Really, no mould was found. But there was mildew. Mildew’s just something that everyone would consider normal in the past 150 years, but in the past few years, it’s just one of those things that are undesirable.”

One wing, designed for dementia patients, will be refitted for elderly patients in need of extended care.

These rooms will be wired for phone, internet and television. Some washroom doors will be widened to accommodate wheelchairs.

Other washrooms will have special lifts, such as those already found in Copper Ridge Place, installed to carry patients.

And one room will be designed for a bariatric, or extremely overweight, patient.

As well, the building will be outfitted with a new call system that will allow patients to wirelessly page nurses anywhere in the building.

The Yukon Party originally promised to have the Thomson Centre open by February of 2007, but it put these plans on hold after it encountered more problems meeting the building code. The territory focused on offering continuing care at Copper Ridge Place instead.

But, with Copper Ridge’s 96 beds having filled up earlier this year, the Yukon Party government renewed its vows to reopen the centre for patients last month.

Contact John Thompson at

johnt@yukon-news.com.