Regional health services decentralized
Yellowknifers gain local health service program

by Cheryl Leschasin
Northern News Services

NNSL (Apr 18/97) - In an effort to improve services, Mackenzie Regional Health Services has been decentralized into smaller community-based or regional organizations.

The change occurred April 1.

Yellowknife Regional Health Services, which will also incorporate health and social service programs, is one of a number of new organizations created by the move.

"We have created one organization that has all the resources," said interim public administrator Don Ellis.

Planning is under way for programs to come together under one roof by next year, making services more easily accessible to Yellowknifers.

Other new regional organizations include the Dogrib Community Services Board, the Deh Cho Health and Social Services Board, the Hay River Community Health Board, and the Fort Smith Health Centre.

Lutselk'e and Fort Resolution are exploring partnerships with the Stanton Regional Health Board to help them eventually take over health and social program management themselves.

Ellis, who is responsible for overseeing the integration of health and social services, said the move is an effort to "develop more creative, long-term programs.

These programs will share block funding from the minister of health and social services with public service agencies such as Aven Senior Centre, Northern Addictions Services and the Salvation Army, among others.

Topping the agenda of organizers is determining the new health services' board. One strong possibility is the city assuming responsibility, and running the health program in a similar fashion to the school board.

Other possibilities include an independent board, or a board run from Stanton Regional Hospital.

Organizers are also deciding how and where administrative duties will be conducted.

The new Yellowknife Health and Social Services agency is facing a unique dilemma.

"In Yellowknife, health services are provided for the entire NWT. It is so intertwined, we have to pull apart what are regional and territorial services," said Mayor Dave Lovell, who attended the information session.

Details will take a few years to iron out, but organizers are confident the move will bring an increase in service accessibility, as well as eliminate costly duplication of work.