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Contracts awarded for detailed design phase of new Mental Health Unit

The Emergency Department at Whitehorse General Hospital
Contracts awarded for detailed design phase of new Mental Health Unit

New 8-12 bed unit in Whitehorse General Hospital will improve and expand mental health care, spaces and programming in 2023

Two contracts have been awarded through a competitive request for proposals process to support the detailed design and project management of a new Mental Health Unit in Whitehorse General Hospital (WGH).

This project represents a significant investment to help increase and sustain access to quality mental health care and services for patients and their families in the Yukon.

"To provide the best health outcomes for patients needing mental health care, we must first meet their needs in terms of the programming, spaces and care environment,” says Jason Bilsky, CEO, Yukon Hospital Corporation. “This project supports our vision for improved mental health services in our hospitals and across the territory and I’m proud to announce we’re moving forward.”

The new unit’s design, which will initially include eight rooms with the capacity to expand to as many as 12, is expected to be complete in early 2022, when construction is scheduled begin. A competitive request for proposals process for all construction phases will take place in 2022, and the project is expected to be complete in mid-2023. The facility will be built in the second floor shelled space above the WGH Emergency Department.

Thinkspace Architecture® Planning Interior Design (Kelowna, BC) with Northern Front Studio from Whitehorse have been awarded the facility consultant service contract. The facility consultant will develop the project’s detailed design, including all trade requirements to support the plan.

Unitech Construction Management of Delta, BC has been awarded the construction management contract. Unitech will work closely with Yukon Hospitals to manage procurement for all trades during the project and the full construction phase of the unit.

Supporting Yukon Hospitals’ Indigenization efforts was part of the assessment of vendors during the selection process. Both successful proponents demonstrated a strong commitment to engage First Nations in a meaningful way during the design, construction and operational readiness phases of the project.

“We’ll continue to work closely with our staff, psychiatrists, government, First Nations rights holders, health system partners and mental health care experts to advance a long-term vision for improved mental health services in the Yukon,” says Bilsky. “We also look forward to working with the Yukon Hospital Foundation and all vendors who are supporting this project from design to completion and operation.”

The current Secure Medical Unit at Whitehorse General Hospital will continue to offer secure mental health care until the new unit opens.

Updates on the project will be posted regularly to Yukon Hospitals’ website (yukonhospitals.ca) and on its social media accounts.


About the new Mental Health Unit

• This project represents Yukon Hospitals’ and the Yukon Government’s shared ongoing commitment to investing in facilities and expanding mental health spaces, programs and services in the territory.

• The new unit, which is supported by $17.5 million funding from the Government of Yukon, is estimated to cost approximately $19 million.

• Additional support for the project will come from the Yukon Hospital Foundation’s Building Better Together campaign, which launched in early October, 2021. Building Better Together aims to support ongoing enhancements to hospital facilities for patients seeking mental health care.

• The current Secure Medical Unit (SMU) in WGH is an acute stabilization unit where patients receive care, often in an acute state of illness, before transitioning home, to community services or to another care facility outside the Yukon.

• The current SMU has not adequately met patients’ mental health needs, both in terms of space and programming available. After a needs assessment in 2017 and a high-level functional plan in 2018, a business case was approved in 2019. Government funding was announced in 2021.

• Yukon Hospitals has worked closely with staff, psychiatrists, government and health system partners, First Nations to plan the new 8-12-bed Mental Health Unit

• Yukon Hospitals is committed to ensuring this project is built in close consultation with First Nations and that it reflects the organization’s efforts to advance Indigenization.

• Indigenization in a healthcare environment means understanding Indigenous approaches and methodologies and incorporating them in the design and operational elements of the hospital. This means including First Nations values, cultures and languages and ways of knowing, being and doing in the fabric of our operations.

• An Indigenous-influenced healthcare space is one where Indigenous People feel safe, where their culture and beliefs are reflected in a spiritual and healing space, and where all Indigenous People are treated equally and respectfully.



About Thinkspace Architecture® Planning Interior Design and Northern Front Studio

Thinkspace Architecture® Planning Interior Design is a client-focused design practice comprised of talented architects, planners, interior designers, and technical staff who are experts in solving complex challenges and taking advantage of unique opportunities. The practice has been providing professional architectural services since 1963. Thinkspace’s highly collaborative teams – based in Surrey and Kelowna, BC and Edmonton, AB – work with clients across western and northern Canada, as well as the western US, in the health care, K-12 education, post-secondary education, civic, and commercial sectors. For more information, visit thinkspace.ca.

This project is being delivered in collaboration with Northern Front Studio, which is based in Whitehorse. Northern Front is a full-service architecture firm that understands the unique challenges of building in Canada’s North. Led by Mary Ellen Read and supported by a team of creative and skilled individuals, the firm prides itself on its desire to provide accessible, sustainable, inspiring spaces for northern communities. Northern Front delivers a wide range of services and projects, including architecture, interior design, project management, project feasibility, building assessments, existing building renovations, and public art installations. For more information, visit northernfront.ca.



About Unitech Construction Management

We are our clients’ construction division delivering their projects in accordance with their goals and priorities in collaboration with their entire project team. Through our Proven Process to Construction Management we focus on early identification and evaluation of risk then provide and implement effective risk mitigation strategies. Through our proprietary management systems and processes, we provide complete transparency, accuracy, and clarity, ensuring confidence through all phases of the project. Unitech is passionate about collaborative construction, which we incorporate into every facet of our projects in order to successfully mitigate clients’ risks, maximize clients’ value, and exceed clients’ expectations.