North

Thomson Centre reopens to patients

The Thomson Centre in Whitehorse is housing extended-care patients once again, after building problems kept the facility closed for years.
The Thomson Centre, an extended-care facility in Whitehorse, is open to patients again following $2.3 million in renovations. The building was named after the mother of the CBC's Nancy Thomson, who went on a tour of the revamped building. 1:49

The Thomson Centre in Whitehorse is housing extended-care patients once again, after building problems kept the facility closed for years.

The centre, which is attached to the Whitehorse General Hospital, officially reopened on Thursday following a $2.3-million facelift. Patients will be admitted starting next week.

The renovated centre has 19 new beds that will be offered to seniors and those with limited mobility, such as people with multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, Lou Gerhig's disease or severe arthritis.

"The people who come here can be of any age. The majority will be seniors, but they're people that have needs that require some support for personal care," Liris Smith, the centre's director of care and comfort, told CBC News on Wednesday.

"Those would be things like assistance with bathing, assistance [with] having their meals prepared, maybe assistance moving around a little bit."

Named after the late Margaret Thomson of Ross River, Yukon, the Thomson Centre originally opened in 1993 as an extended-care facility, but it was shut down in 2002 after a mould infestation was discovered.

After the problem was resolved, the centre did not house extended-care patients for years. Instead, it was home to physiotherapy services and administrative offices.

'This is their home'

Many of the renovated patient rooms offer private baths and scenic views of the Yukon River and downtown Whitehorse. The revamped facility also comes with a central kitchen, an outdoor gardening area, a deck, and specialized bathing facilities.

"We really have the philosophy of a home, like this is their home," Smith said.

"We believe that people can wake up when they want to, and they can have what they want for breakfast, so we're going to have a flexible arrangement."

Smith said 26 staff members have been hired at the Thomson Centre, which she said means Yukon has staffing ratios that would be the envy of health-care facilities in southern Canada.

"Our staffing ratios are among the highest in Canada so people are able to get the support they need," she said.

"We have individual rooms and an ability for people to really have the space that they require to call it their home."

There are currently 20 people on a waitlist at the Thomson Centre. Smith said an additional 10 beds will be made available in a later phase.