The current GNWT government has inherited a really big white elephant from the previous government, namely the new Stanton Territorial Hospital. It might have looked mighty impressive when it opened but then a number of problems started to appear. Big ones and small ones and they got worse as we went into winter and our typical northern cold snaps.
To name but a few: the toilets plugging up, sliding doors freezing open and a furnace that didn’t seem capable of heating the entire building. It seemed like every day I spent in the hospital, a new problem would emerge. Those aren’t just start up problems, but indicate a disturbing pattern. It looks like the quality of some of the design and work wasn’t up to par.
One wonders, who oversaw or inspected the work? The hospital is a mighty big, expensive and important building to the North, so who in the government was responsible for seeing that it was built correctly?
I would suggest that the political leaders of the GNWT admit that they got stuck with a white elephant that has turned into a real lemon. They should hire an independent Northern engineering or construction firm to review what has gone wrong to date and then do a thorough inspection of the building to see what else is sub-standard and just waiting to break. This is sometimes called a third-party construction audit and it gives you a good idea of what is going on. It is better to know now and plan to do the repairs and fixes, then wait until something breaks and creates an even bigger problem.
On Dec. 19 the CBC did an article on a similar hospital in North Battleford, Sask. and all the problems it was having. This should have been a wake-up call to the GNWT. One of the problems was the hospital water was contaminated with lead and copper and it was deemed unsafe to drink. I assume someone from the GNWT read this article? Did they immediately order that Stanton’s water be tested at several locations? If not, why not and why aren’t the results of those tests made public?
I suggested last week that the government get input from the staff and patients to help identify many of the smaller problems and irritants. Then perhaps there should be a small independent committee to review this input and come up with doable practical solutions. There should also be a weekly or monthly report detailing the problems and how fixing those problems is proceeding. A report that is made public to ensure that things are getting better.
One thing that baffles me is why are there so many secure doors that one needs a pass card, to get through? At times it seems more like a jail or prison with all these secure doors. One has to ask why they are there and what purpose do they serve? I have been in several hospitals over the years and certainly never seen anything like it. Some of the nurses and staff who move around the hospital spend a lot of time scanning their cards to get through doors. It is a little bizarre and gives the place an uncomfortable, maximum security penitentiary feel.
One of the overall problems is we have a hospital designed by southerners, for the south and then built in the North. It really doesn’t fit our climate or our people. Governments seem to make this basic mistake over and over again and then wonder why all these problems occur. It is time we started to design and build things for the North. We live in a place with long, cold winters. Why are their no plug-ins for the emergency parking lot or for the general parking lot? That is an example of what I mean. You may not need plug-ins down south, but they should be mandatory in the North. Why aren’t they?
The GNWT first has to admit that there is a problem and then they have to come up with some practical ways to solve those problems and make the place better for everyone.