Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut March 04, 2013 - 4:05 pm

Nunavut MLA wants patient homes for Rankin, CamBay

Regional health centre patients stay at billets, hotels

The health department has mentioned the use of this old hostel in Cambridge Bay as a patient boarding home — or a treatment centre. (FILE PHOTO)
The health department has mentioned the use of this old hostel in Cambridge Bay as a patient boarding home — or a treatment centre. (FILE PHOTO)

If the Government of Nunavut can maintain patient boarding homes in Iqaluit, Yellowknife and Ottawa, then they should also create such facilities in Rankin Inlet and Cambridge Bay, Nanulik MLA Johnny Ningeongan said March 1 in the legislative assembly.

In a series of questions directed at Keith Peterson, the health minister, Ningeongan said he’s happy to see that Baffin region medical patients can stay at “a well-supported boarding home” while they’re in Iqaluit for appointments at the Qikiqtani General Hospital.

But patients who travel to Rankin Inlet and Cambridge Bay for appointments must either stay at hotels or find billets with relatives.

“Currently, medical clients travelling to Rankin Inlet from outlying communities have to find relatives to stay with or stay in hotels. It is often difficult to find accommodation with relatives who, in addition, are often not compensated for what they provide,” Ningeongan said.

This also leads to poor communications on medical appointments and travel arrangements, he said. That in turn adds to their stress, especially if they are unilingual Inuit.

“When patients come out of Coral Harbour, for example, to Rankin Inlet, there’s nobody really there to support services for these patients, especially if they’re unilingual members of the community. They have trouble trying to figure who is supposed to pick them up from wherever the accommodation is to the health facilities,” Ningeongan said.

Peterson responded by saying that when the GN planned for the construction of the two health centres in Cambridge Bay and Rankin Inlet, “I don’t think the planning was complete.”

That meant there wasn’t enough housing in either community to accommodate medical staff and nurses, which meant patients were sent south instead of to the regional health centres.

“With respect to why the facilities are in the south, in Ottawa or Iqaluit or Winnipeg or Edmonton or Yellowknife, for that matter, it gets back to lack of housing,” Peterson said.

Peterson also said that to pay the cost of running patient homes in Cambridge and Rankin, the GN must hold discussions with the federal government, whose Non-Insured Health Benefits program covers much of the expense of patient travel.

But he said the health department is “reviewing the potential” for a Rankin Inlet facility and that he’s instructed his staff to look at options for use of a former building in Cambridge Bay, once used as a hostel.

“I believe the department would be willing to entertain any proposals from the private sector,” Peterson said.

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