Arctic Bay welcomed dignitaries with great fanfare Sept. 11 for the official opening of the hamlet’s new health centre.

Minister of Health George Hickes, Minister of Community and Government Services (CGS) Joe Savikataaq and MLA Isaac Shooyook were on hand for the celebration, which included a community feast and square dance.

Arctic Bay celebrated the official commissioning of its new health centre Sept. 11. photo courtesy of Department of Health, Government of Nunavut

“All the way around it’s a better facility. There’s more room, more space, but one of the main differences is the digital radiology equipment,” said Hickes.

The original Arctic Bay health centre, built in 1983, was too small to adequately serve the current and anticipated needs of the community.

Hickes noted digital radiology systems – digital X-rays – are being set up across the territory. He says it makes all the difference.

“From days to sometimes weeks to get results, it’s down to hours,” he said. “It’s almost night and day.”

X-rays are an important diagnostic tool, and timely processing is integral to the health of the patient.

Tommy Tatatuapik begins the celebration with a prayer and a blessing at Arctic Bay’s new health centre Sept. 11, including in the emergency room. photo courtesy of Department of Health, Government of Nunavut

Hickes says his department and CGS have been working on ensuring data streams are available in all communities so each will have access to digital radiology by the end of next year.

In the legislative assembly two days later, Hickes acknowledged the efforts of Arctic Bay’s long-time supervisor of health programs, Gail Redpath, and her staff for the smooth move and transition from the old health centre to the new facility.

“I also acknowledge the support of Arctic Bay’s Member of the Legislative Assembly, Isaac Shooyook, and would like to thank him for his hard work and invitation to his community to join in this celebration,” Hickes told his colleagues.

Shooyook also addressed the assembly.

“Our health centre was a project I worked extremely hard on and I pushed for the construction of the new facility. Now as we are nearing the very end of our term as MLAs, the opening ceremony was commenced for our health centre. As I walked in, being a traditional Inuk, I felt like I had walked into a hospital as it was spacious and the materials were similar to those used in southern construction,” he said.

“This was a matter of immense local pride in seeing the new facility, and many residents went to the opening to view the health centre. I am taking this opportunity to express my gratitude and to share my pride with my colleagues on this facility.”

Communities with new health centres in recent years include Naujaat four years ago and Taloyoak two years ago. Cape Dorset was next in line, but due to the extensive construction already taking place there, Sanikiluaq has been bumped ahead.

“Construction to start next summer,” said Hickes.

A separate five-plex for medical staff will be completed next month.

Michele LeTourneau

Michele LeTourneau first arrived at NNSL's headquarters in Yellowknife in1998, with a BA honours in Theatre. For four years she documented the arts across the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Following...

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