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The history of the Whitehorse Hospital to 1947

An Explorer's Guide to Whitehorse, Yukon

Yukon Hospital Corporation

All-Year Round Guide to the Yukon, 1947     The article and photograph below (article by Horace E. Moore, photo by James Quong) have been copied from the 80-page booklet "All-Year Round Guide to the Yukon", which was compiled and published for The Kiwanis Club of Whitehorse by Horace E. Moore of The Whitehorse Star in 1947. We have done a high-resolution scan of the booklet, and it can be downloaded from our Public folder at Dropbox by clicking on the cover image to the right (pdf, 24MB).

Whitehorse hospital, 1947

Whitehorse Hospital

    A HOSPITAL is the grandest institution ever devised by the mind of man. Every great discovery or contribution made by science for the physical and mental welfare of the human race has either resulted therefrom or is today practised therein. Nevertheless, there is, for the most part, a profound ignorance in the public mind as to how such institutions function or of the beneficent services they provide.

    We have in Whitehorse a hospital of which we may he justly proud. The present edifice was erected in 1915 and then had a capacity of twenty-one beds.

    With the passage of the years, increased accommodation became an urgent necessity. with the result that the erection of the present handsome addition was undertaken and completed in 1943 at a cost of approximately $36,000. Today the hospital has a fifty-bed capacity and still there are times when this is inadequate to provide the accommodation required. By excavations made in the basement, two wards for Indians have been provided at a cost of approximately $14,500.

    For quite a time the nursing staff was housed in the hospital, which was neither satisfactory nor conducive to efficient service, although it must he admitted that it was the best arrangement which could he made during the war years.

    With the insistent and urgent demands for increased accommodation for patients, the erection of a nurses' home, self-contained and entirely separate from the hospital premises, became a prime necessity. The erection of this new home for the nursing staff was commenced in 1947 and completed the following year at an approximate cost of $38,000. By this means the necessary extra accommodation for patients was provided.

    In the early days only a small staff was required to operate the hospital efficiently. During the war years, to endeavour to increase the nursing staff was out of the question. Today the hospital staff numbers nineteen, of which nine comprise the nursing staff, including the matron, assistant matron and laboratory technician. In addition there is a medical superintendent and an additional medical practitioner.

    A few thousand dollars covered the annual operating costs of the hospital in the earlier years. Today they amount to approximately $75,000 and undoubtedly will continue to increase in the future.

    It should be pointed out that the Yukon Territorial Government has borne the entire cost of constructing the hospital premises, the nurses' home and the two Indian wards. It should also be added that the Territorial Government also contributes a substantial grant annually for care of indigents. The operation of the hospital, however, is under the supervision of a duly constituted hospital board composed of seven members, elected by popular vote.

    A contract has been awarded for the installation of an electric elevator, half the cost of which has been most generously contributed by the people of Whitehorse and vicinity upon a voluntary basis. A special grant is being secured from the Territorial Government to make up the total amount. The Graduate Nurses' Club have recently completely furnished a much-needed nursery - a fine gesture on their part which is much appreciated. Private donations have also made it possible to fully furnish a number of private wards, to provide certain equipment as well as necessary and useful articles for the Nurses' Home, all of which have been gratefully appreciated. All furniture, equipment and effects, both in the hospital proper and in the nurses' home, are adequately covered by insurance.

    Other improvements are contemplated and deemed necessary. These will be carried out as and when the necessary funds become available.
-- H. E. M.