Rainycrest’s effort to get 32 beds for a special needs unit will now be a matter of waiting, as administration waits to be interviewed, along with three other competitors, by the Ministry of Health later this month.
During a public session last Thursday afternoon at the Travelodge in Kenora, Rainycrest and its three competitors—Red Lake Northwood Lodge (Red Lake), Pinecrest (Kenora), and Central Park Lodge (Kenora)—gave presentations to ministry reps Lou Bottos, program supervisor, and associate Vera Gallagher.
“There’s 64 beds to be allocated across the Kenora-Rainy River District, and this was the chance for the ministry to find out who wanted how many and why?” said Kevin Queen, administrator at Rainycrest Home for the Aged.
While Rainycrest is aiming to replace the 33 beds it has lost to the Rainy River and Emo hospitals with 32 beds in a special unit for cognitively-impaired residents, beds requested by the other parties varied wildly in number.
Red Lake Northwood Lodge, which currently has 22 beds, asked for 10 more beds for normal care purposes. Pinecrest, which has 161 beds and will lose 45 to Dryden next year, requested 12 new ones.
Central Park Lodge asked for all 64 beds to go to its 96-bed facility.
Queen noted while Rainycrest was the only facility from this end of the area, he was confident the special needs unit will carry significant weight when the ministry ultimately decides.
“If we have 64 beds coming into the Kenora-Rainy River District, they should be split up reasonably,” he stressed.
After hearing the vying parties’ cases, 15 of the 45 public attendees stepped up to speak on the importance of getting more beds in their community rest homes.
“Two spoke in support of Red Lake, two spoke for Rainycrest, seven supported Pinecrest, and one spoke for [Central Park Lodge],” recalled Queen.
One person from Fort Frances who spoke loud and clear for more beds at Rainycrest was Coun. Struchan Gilson.
“To me, it is obscene that we have to compete for beds. If it’s possible to provide beds for old people, and provide that kind of care in the first place, there’s shouldn’t be any competition,” he remarked.
“Everyone will need that kind of care eventually,” added Gilson. “Imagine if schools operated that way—it would be ridiculous. ‘Sorry, we only allow 500 students in. Here, take a number!’”
He also noted while two homes were requesting small numbers of beds, Rainycrest is looking at offering specialized care while breaking even with its funding.
“With the loss of beds, the per diem goes away and the only way to deal with that is to cut staff,” Gilson lamented.
He was sent as a representative of the Town of Fort Frances, and went with a resolution from the town to support the special needs unit, as well as motions from six district municipalities.
Queen noted there was a strong voice against a privatized home like Central Park Lodge, which is owned by a Birchwood Terrace, a company owning several other homes.
“The majority of the people spoke in favour of non-profit sector for long-term care. Like one person said, ‘The senior citizen is suspicious of where the money goes, and they want to be sure there’s nothing in it for the management,’” remarked Queen.
The ministry is expected to makes its decision in January following its interviews with the competing homes.
Queen noted the public can contact the ministry before Nov. 8 if they have any criticisms or to show support for the new wing. “If they want it, they should let the ministry know,” he remarked.
The public can write to: Stan Kunto, RFP Co-ordinator, Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, Health Care Programs, 159 Cedar St., Suite 106, Sudbury, Ont., P3E 6A5.