Yukon NDP says government has failed to deliver on promise to help rural Yukoners travel for medical care

Yukon NDP Health Critic Annie Blake is among Yukoners calling on the territorial government for better follow-up plans for patients traveling for medical care.

Blake said that in the 2021 election, one of the main commitments of the current government was to build a medical lodge in Whitehorse to accommodate rural residents traveling to medical appointments.

She said she had not heard of a lodge since the government was re-elected.

“We haven’t done any work on that promise,” Blake told CBC News. “If or while the government is working on a response, I hope they also go back on that promise they made to establish a medical lodge here in Whitehorse.”

Blake said she raised the issue of aftercare support for rural patients during the last sitting of the Yukon Legislative Assembly on Nov. 24, with representatives from the Yukon Hospital Corporation in attendance.

She said the answer she received didn’t really answer her question.

“There hasn’t been a lot of response,” she said. “Witnesses who were there did not consider that discharge planning is an issue. They indicated that First Nations patients have access to the First Nations health program 24 hours a day for support. “

She said she also heard witnesses say that people going through the emergency department and not admitted to hospital “may not always get the discharge planning they need depending on the circumstances that occur in the emergency department. “.

In a written statement, the Yukon government’s Department of Health and Human Services said it is evaluating options to provide accommodations for Yukoners traveling to Whitehorse for medical services.

He also said he was investing in improving the current medical travel program and aftercare services by implementing the recommendations of the People First report — a comprehensive review of Yukon health and social programs and services completed in 2019.

The report provides recommendations to improve health and social services for Yukoners, including working with First Nations on health outcomes, cultural safety and traditional healing, partnering with communities and people with lived experiences to get their feedback on services and improving systems to create more holistic outcomes. and integrated care.

A place to stay in Whitehorse

Blake said having a place to stay after being discharged from Whitehorse General Hospital has been a topic of discussion within rural communities for many years.

“When people come to Whitehorse to access medical care, we have to rely on hotels,” Blake said. “Not everyone has access to a VISA, and with the difficult times we are going through right now, not everyone has extra funds to cover accommodation in advance or find a way home. him.”

Blake also said that a recent report of someone hitchhiking home, like described by the Association of Yukon Communities in a recent letter to the Minister of Health, “says a lot about the picture”.

“I know the Liberal government has promised to create a lodge for people who come to Whitehorse for medical care,” Blake said. “That pledge was part of the platform on which the government campaigned.”

In its statement, the Yukon government said it is committed to ensuring that all Yukoners have person-centered support, especially for those who must leave their community for medical reasons.

In the short term, he is exploring options to provide housing for people who need to travel to Vancouver – specifically BC Children’s Hospital, St. Paul’s Hospital or Vancouver General Hospital – for medically necessary services.

Over the long term, the Government of Yukon continues to explore medical travel residence options in Whitehorse through discussions with partners and stakeholders.

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