Moving patients is bad policy

Home care > hospitals

I and other seniors and elders strongly protest the decision to transfer four people a month from Whitehorse General Hospital to Watson Lake or Dawson City because of overcrowding in the central hospital. We are dismayed to see that the WGH has stated that patients need to be prepared that “if they come to (the) hospital they may receive care at any one of our three hospitals.” It is apparent that this is without any choice in the matter.

We are shocked that the determination to move a patient is based on purely clinical criteria.

Particularly in the case of elderly patients it is imperative for health reasons that the patient be consulted in decisions about their health and that supports that families provide in visiting patients is part of the “clinical criteria.”

Patients need to have control over their treatment and their consent should be pursued if at all possible. If consent is not possible from the patient, then family should be part of the decision-making. They need to be notified in good time of any proposed move, consulted on the implications of the move, and given sufficient time for a reasonable process to be taken, such as accompanying the patient during the move.

We are further dismayed that transfers do not take into consideration the financial cost of such moves, that it is not covered by the Yukon’s medical travel subsidy. If transfer of patients is proven necessary and consensus for the move is reached, the family should be compensated within reason if the move entails greater expenses than when the patient was in the Whitehorse hospital.

Many seniors and elders fear that in the future, elderly patients will be forced into the huge Whistle Bend facility. In most cases that will mean fewer visits by family and less connection with the community because of the location and size of Whistle Bend. Some seniors feel that pouring millions into the recent central hospital improvements (which have not increased the numbers of beds by any degree) has been done to justify filling the Whistle Bend facility. Is moving elderly patients to Watson Lake or Dawson a harbinger of being sent to Whistle Bend?

Ignoring the consideration of patients’ psychological health and the need for family supports is a backwards step in health care. Taxpayer money spent on enlarging the WGH and in building a large facility such as Whistle Bend cannot come before the compassionate care of Yukon patients.

This problem could have been addressed long ago if the Department of Health and Social Services had properly evaluated and made the changes needed in Yukon’s home care service, particularly in rural Yukon. In the long run home care is less expensive and is far more supportive than acute care in hospitals, wherever they are located.

Eleanor Millard

Carcross

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