Fuel spill adds limitations to Western Nunavut community's health services

·2 min read
Taloyoak's health centre. Built in 2015, it is named after Judy Hill, a nurse who died in a medevac plane crash in 1972. (Government of Nunavut - image credit)
Taloyoak's health centre. Built in 2015, it is named after Judy Hill, a nurse who died in a medevac plane crash in 1972. (Government of Nunavut - image credit)

The Judy Hill Memorial Health Centre in Taloyoak, Nunavut, remains closed for regular services nearly two weeks after an oil spill took place in the recently-constructed building.

All health services have been moved to the community's old health facility until further notice, according to a Wednesday news release from Nunavut's Department of Health.

The department said a fuel spill cleanup at the Judy Hill centre is still ongoing. The spill was first announced by the territory on Aug. 18. At the time, the department said emergency services would still be available in a section of the health centre that's still "free of fuel fumes."

The department also said at the time that the community's dental team would be moved to Cambridge Bay until the health centre could be brought back to full operation.

CBC
CBC

In the Wednesday release, the territory said health services will continue to be limited to emergencies only.

"Once services can resume at the new health centre, the Department of Health will notify the public," the release said.

During the health centre's closure, the number of patients requiring transfer to another community are too few to report, said Danarae Sommerville, a spokesperson for the department.

In 2021, Taloyoak's health centre also closed for a time due to flooding.

The centre usually offers full-time health care, public health and emergency medical services, as well as visiting and tele-health specialist services.

The health centre, built in 2015, is named after Judy Hill, a nurse who died in a medevac plane crash in 1972.

Nunavut's department of Community and Government Services is handling the fuel spill cleanup efforts, but has not yet provided an update on the size of the spill or remediation efforts.

Residents in need of services are asked to phone the nurse on call at 867-561-5111, and are discouraged from going to the health centre directly.

Those with COVID-19-related questions who do not require treatment or a vaccine appointment, are advised to call the COVID-19 hotline at 1-888-975-8601.