The Whistle Bend Continuing Care Facility photographed in Whitehorse on July 17, is expected to open in October. The facility is hosting a grand opening, with tours, on Sept. 12. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Whistle Bend continuing care facility ready for the public to have a look

Some new staff will have to stay in hotels while they try and find housing

Some Outside staff at the new Whistle Bend Continuing Care facility will be living in hotels when they arrive in Whitehorse this fall.

The facility, which opened for public tours on Sept. 12, is bringing in just under half of its 250 new employees from Outside. In July of this year, the Yukon government was posting internally, asking existing employees if they had space for incoming staffers.

“We did a reach out to our own staff inside the department and some people have come forward with rooms that might be available,” said Karen Chan, assistant deputy minister with health and social services.

She said the department has also come to an agreement with three hotels in town, to offer rooms from now through to the spring if necessary.

These include the Elite Hotel, the Westmark Hotel, and the Days Inn.

Management at the Westmark and Days Inn didn’t respond to calls in time for today’s paper, but staff at the Elite said that after Sept. 15, 20 rooms will be available for Whistle Bend staff, at a discounted rate of $890 a month. This applies to rooms with two queen beds, and includes wifi and weekly housekeeping.

Chan said short-term accommodations like this will give allow newcomers to get to know the city before deciding which neighbourhood they want to live in.

She said roughly 30 new staff have already arrived in Whitehorse (approximately 70 per cent have been hired at this point), and more are coming every week.

While Whistle Bend doesn’t open until late October, there’s a significant amount of training for everyone around policies and procedures, said Chan. This includes four days of training and two full rotational shifts.

Some have done this training and are working in facilities including Birch Lodge, Copper Ridge Place, Thomson Centre and Macaulay Lodge, so they’ll be ready when residents start moving in during October.

Chan said this will happen at the rate of three or four a day.

“It will be gradual. We’ll start with people from the hospital and communities who are in need of the services and then we’ll move them in gradually. We won’t be rushing because we want to spend time with each individual and with each family,” she said.

Not only will that allow staff to get to know people on a personal level, it will help with practicalities including setting up medications at the onsite pharmacy, and establishing their needs in terms of what they want to do at the facility.

Chan said there are gardens, a coffee shop, a gym, a salon, a devotion room, a healing lodge, a craft room, woodworking opportunities, and more.

There are also two separate kitchens, including one specifically for the preparation of wild game.

Chan said there are a few touch-ups before the facility opens (“there’s a paint chip here or something has to be glued there,” she said), but for the most part, it’s ready to go.

She said previous issues, including cracking drywall and sinks that wouldn’t drain properly, are no longer a problem as far as she knows, but that that kind of thing falls under the Yukon Department of Highways and Public Works.

The department did not respond to questions in time for today’s paper.

The News has reported on previous issues including in 2017, when PCL Construction halted work due to shifting after spring frost heaves, and in 2016, when groundwater and drainage issues led to changes to the property’s parking garage.

Contact Amy Kenny at amy.kenny@yukon-news.com

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