A new continuing care facility meant to ease the waiting list for beds in the territory is ready to take in residents.
The building on Sixth Avenue, which used to be a retirement home for Oblate missionaries, now has 10 continuing care beds.
The first residents are expected to move in next week. The facility should be completely full by next month.
“The opening of this facility will ensure that 10 residents who are very patiently waiting for continuing care beds will have a room and will receive excellent services,” said Health Minister Mike Nixon. Nixon unveiled the new facility Tuesday along with Premier Darrell Pasloski.
The Sixth Avenue facility brings the total number of continuing care beds in the Yukon to 193. It is being described as an interim measure until permanent beds are available in the new Whistle Bend continuing care facility.
On an average day there are between 80 and 90 people in the territory waiting for one of those beds to become available, according to the Department of Health and Social Services.
As of yesterday 17 of Whitehorse General Hospital’s 55 acute care beds were being used by people on that list who have nowhere else to go. That number has fluctuated between 15 and 20 for the last year, the Yukon Hospital Corporation reports.
The new facility is on a single floor. It has a common area and a kitchen where a cook will prepare meals. It also has a living room with a large TV.
Pairs of bedrooms share a toilet, sink and small common space. An accessible shower and bathtub for the entire building is in a separate room.
The government spent $1 million to buy the building last year and $1.9 million to renovate it.
It’s meant for people who need an intermediate level of care, said Liris Smith, the Health Department’s director of care and community.
“They are able to mobilize with some assistance, they might have a walker or a cane,” she said.
“They need some supported personal care with bathing and hygiene and even dressing, and some support getting their meal prepared. But generally they’re fairly independently mobile.”
Smith said the department has already heard from pairs of friends or family members interested in moving into this style of living together, she said.
Smith estimates the new facility will be staffed by between 12 to 15 full-time employees.
Two staff members will be in the building at all times, as well as a supervisor working Monday to Friday.
Other jobs include physiotherapists and social workers who will also be around to provide support.
There’s no word on what the building will be used for once the Whistle Bend facility opens. For now the department is only saying “the property can be used for other health and social services housing needs.”
Designs for the Whistle Bend facility were made public last month. The current cost of the project is estimated at $147 million. That includes construction, infrastructure and move-in costs.
Construction is expected to start in April and to be complete by January 2018. Residents would move in sometime in the spring of 2018.
Last December, the construction contract was awarded to PCL Constructors Westcoast Inc., the same company that is working on the Whitehorse General Hospital expansion.
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