In order to understand the culture and the future direction of the YHC, it is important to know its history. The YHC was established in 1989 by the Yukon Hospital Act. An interim Board of Trustees was appointed at that time. Prior to this date, the organization was known as the Whitehorse General Hospital (WGH). The hospital's long history began in the Yukon in 1902 when an eight to 10 bed building was erected.

The Whitehorse General Hospital in 1902
Yukon Archives, Ernest Brown fonds, #892

This grew to a 30 bed hospital during World War I. In 1943, another wing of 10 beds was added. Another 20 bed wing was added in 1949, and a final wing for operating and case rooms was completed in 1951. In 1943 the U.S. Army also built a 300 bed hospital. However, the need for beds gradually lessened and the building was used by other military departments. In 1959 the past hospital was built to replace the buildings downtown. It was owned and managed by National Health and Welfare, Medical Services Branch. Many of the decisions were made in Ottawa.

The Whitehorse General Hospital in 1928
Yukon Archives, Bud and Jeanne (Connolly) Harbottle fonds, #6187

In 1990, the YHC and its Board were created in preparation for the First Phase Transfer Agreement for health services between the Yukon Territorial Government and the Federal Government. The YHC, Yukon Territorial Government (YTG), and the Council of Yukon Indians (CYI) (now known as Council of Yukon First Nations CYFN) entered into an agreement to create a First Nations Health Committee of the Board of Trustees. This was to ensure that any changes to programs offered by the Corporation would support self-government agreements for Yukon First Nations. The Director of First Nations Health Programs was appointed to assume responsibility for the management of the program at the WGH. On April 1, 1993 the WGH operations were officially transferred to the YHC. Construction started on the current building in 1994. In the winter of 1996-1997 hospital departments started relocating. Parts of the old hospital were totally renovated and the final moves were completed in the fall of 1997.

The Whitehorse General Hospital in 1958
Yukon Archives, Rod MacDougall fonds, 89/57, #39.

Originally Health Canada, Medical Services Branch had agreed to transfer all Universal Health Programs to the YTG in two phases, Phase I - the Whitehorse General Hospital - in 1993, and Phase 2 in 1996. YTG established the YHC as the principal delivery agent for Phase 1 programs. Phase 2 included Community Nursing Stations, Cottage Hospitals, Dental Health, Mental Health, Public Health, CDU Clinics, and Continuing Care. The Phase 2 transfer to YHC never occurred due to a change in government and the new government's decision that the transfer would be too great a change and the responsibilities too onerous for the YHC. At present, the YHC's responsibilities are limited to the WGH.

 The Whitehorse General Hospital in its current location

The WGH currently employs over 350 staff and has 49 in-patient beds, 10 bassinets for newborns, and 10 surgical day care beds, an emergency department and OR suites. The hospital is equipped with a full range of medical imaging services - CT scanning, digital mammography and ultrasound. WGH also offers laboratory services, a therapies department, as well as a broad range of specialists both medical and surgical.

Historical Timeline

The following are the historical highlights for the Whitehorse General Hospital:

  • 1901 - An eight to 10 bed hospital is constructed at the corner of 2nd and Elliott Street.
  • During World War I - a 30 bed hospital is built, eventually becoming a 60 bed hospital.
  • 1943 - The US Army builds a 300 bed hospital on 4th and Lambert Street.
  • 1959 - A 60 bed hospital is built to on the current site, eventually becoming a 77 bed facility.
  • 1989 - The Hospital Act is passed into law establishing the Yukon Hospital Corporation.
  • 1992 - Thomson Centre is completed for continuing care.
  • 1993 - The Board of Trustees is established; hospital employees transfer from Health Canada to WGH.
  • 1994 - Construction of the new hospital starts on the same site.
  • 1995 - Cataract surgery is offered at Whitehorse General Hospital.
  • 1996 - Whitehorse General Hospital purchases an integrated health care software system.
  • 1997 - A governance model is chosen by the Yukon Hospital Corporation; the Healing Room opens; WGH experiences strike action; Operational Review of WGH completed; the last of the departments move into the new facility.
  • 1998 - The Diabetic Education Centre is established.
  • 1998 - The First Nations Dietetic Internship Program is established in partnership with "outside" hospitals.
  • 1999 - Pre-operative Clinic established.
  • 2000 - Copper Ridge Place is completed and residents from Thomson Centre move.
  • 2002 - PARTY program introduced at WGH; Telehealth established to the communities; CT scan purchased.
  • 2003 - Student Training and Employment Program (STEP) and Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC) assist with funding summer RN students; the community raises funds for, designs, builds and furnishes a dedicated chemotherapy room - "Karen's Room"; Close to Our Hearts Campaign is established.
  • 2004 - First total knee replacement surgery is performed.
  • 2005 - Yukon Hospital Foundation is established with subsequent major fund raising initiatives.
  • 2006 - Agnew Peckham commissioned to design a new Emergency Department; the Chief Executive Officer retires after nine year tenure.
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