Rural health centre phones in need of replacing

The phones in Yukon's community health centres are so old that some are "barely functioning," the Department of Health and Social Services says.

The phones in Yukon’s community health centres are so old that some are “barely functioning,” the Department of Health and Social Services says.

The phones in 11 community health centres, in Beaver Creek, Carmacks, Carcross, Destruction Bay, Faro, Haines Junction, Mayo, Old Crow, Pelly Crossing, Ross River and Teslin, have been in use for about 20 years.

In late February the Health Department issued a tender for replacement phone systems.

“Given the age of the existing systems and with limited maintenance they are beginning to fail as a result,” according to the tender document.

The existing system, the Nortel BCM 50, isn’t being made anymore.

Nortel, once a Canadian telecommunications giant, filed for bankruptcy about seven years ago.

“The system is outdated and it is increasingly difficult to find parts to make repairs. In fact, parts are no longer being manufactured,” said health spokesperson Pat Living in an email.

When new parts are needed, Northwestel “was kind enough to find spare parts and circuits to support us and maintain the system,” Living said.

“It is now being replaced to ensure continuity of service.”

Beaver Creek and Mayo health centre phone systems are “barely functioning and are being kept operating with a bandage approach by Northwestel and should be replaced first,” according to the tender.

Living said there has been “the rare occasion” when the phone lines haven’t worked “but nurses use satellite phones or the MRS radio system as required.”

The tender closes next week. All work is to be completed by June 15, the document says.

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