Silver slams Dawson hospital plans

Liberal Leader Sandy Silver is blasting the Yukon government's plans for the new hospital in Dawson City, currently under construction.

Liberal Leader Sandy Silver is blasting the Yukon government’s plans for the new hospital in Dawson City, currently under construction.

Silver said in a motion before the legislature this week that the plans for an acute-care facility go against the wishes of the community and the Yukon Medical Association, could result in nurses leaving the town, do not make good use of existing resources and will be “next to impossible to staff.”

The issue first came up on Monday, when Silver called on Health Minister Doug Graham to tell the public just how over-budget and behind schedule the new hospitals in Watson Lake and Dawson City are expected to be.

The Watson Lake facility was budgeted at $22.1 million and was promised to be open in spring 2012, while the Dawson hospital was supposed to cost $26.5 million and open in the fall of 2012, said Silver.

In a rare straight answer from the government, Graham confirmed that the Watson Lake hospital would be ready in spring of 2013 at a cost of $24.5 million, and the Dawson hospital would be completed by early January at a cost of $29.7 million.

The next day Graham announced that the Dawson facility would be an acute-care hospital, meaning that physician and emergency services would be available around the clock.

This provoked a flurry of responses from the opposition members, who insisted that a focus on acute care would divert resources from collaborative care models, where doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other health care professionals work together to provide comprehensive patient care.

“The NDP Official Opposition and health care advocates everywhere know there are better models of care that better address patients’ needs in a more efficient way,” said NDP Leader Liz Hanson. “The end result of those models is to keep people away from the emergency rooms and out of the hospital. Patient-centred, collaborative care takes collaboration with communities, patients, nurses, and other health care providers, not just doctors.”