Take a sneak peek inside Whitehorse hospital's new emergency department

Brian Gillen, chair of the Yukon Hospital Corporation, calls the two-storey, 40,000 square foot addition, "a remarkable facility, by any standard."

Construction on the new wing of Whitehorse General Hospital began 2 years ago, and cost $72 million

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at the new emergency department on Wednesday, but the first patients won't arrive there until Jan. 9. (Claudiane Samson/Radio-Canada)

The new emergency department at Whitehorse General Hospital won't see its first patients until next month, but this week the hospital is giving people an early peek inside the new facility.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Wednesday, and public open houses are set for Friday and Saturday.

Brian Gillen, chair of the Yukon Hospital Corporation, calls the two-storey, 40,000 square foot addition, "a remarkable facility, by any standard."

'A remarkable facility, by any standard,' said Brian Gillen, chair of the Yukon Hospital Corporation. (Claudiane Samson/Radio-Canada)

He says it has 17 "well-equipped treatment areas," compared to 10 in the current emergency department. 

"It will enable our ER staff to much better deal with the some-34,000 visits made each year to the emergency room, by Yukoners," he said.

Construction on the new wing began two years ago, and cost $72 million. It was built by PCL Constructors Westcoast Inc. (PCL), but Gillen says nearly 100 Yukon-based businesses were also involved in different stages of the project.

Construction on the new wing began two years ago, and cost $72 million. (Claudiane Samson/Radio-Canada)

Gillen describes it as a state-of-the-art facility, with a lot of thought put into its design.

"Many Yukon-inspired colours and elements incorporated into the design will make it a comfortable and healing space," he said.

Health Minister Pauline Frost also spoke at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. She says the new wing is much-needed.

Once it is open, she says the existing emergency department will be available for other uses.

Officials say the new wing was designed with 'Yukon-inspired' colours. (Claudiane Samson/Radio-Canada)

"As it's vacated, we will have a conversation with the care providers and our partners about what should happen with that facility," she said.

"We are all aware that the hospital, and the pressures that we've been faced with in terms of bed shortages — this provides opportunities."

The new emergency department will be open for the public to come take a look on Friday from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., and on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

It will open to patients on Jan. 9.

The pillars outside were designed to resemble trees, while the underside of the overhang is meant to resemble the bottom of a canoe. (Claudiane Samson/Radio-Canada)

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