The wait is nearly over.
News last week that the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care had lifted the cease to admissions order for Rainycrest Long-Term Care here is being warmly welcomed by families anxious for their loved ones to move into their new home.
Rainycrest began admitting new residents on Monday and will continue to admit several each week thereafter for the next four months.
Kathi Gagne and her family have been waiting this past year for two of her close relatives—husband, Steve, and father, Gord McTaggart—to get into Rainycrest.
Gagne said her husband has been an Alternative Level of Care (ALC) patient living on the second floor of La Verendrye Hospital for more than six months, and it has been a positive experience.
“The CCU [Continuing Care Unit] has become a really tight community," she noted. ”It's joyous, the staff is happy, they're kind.
“It has not been a bad experience," she added. "It's going to be sad to leave.”
Gagne said she is “cautiously optimistic” about her husband now moving to Rainycrest.
“I keep hearing that there's a staff shortage," she noted. ”I hope they're not rushing it.
“That being said, he will have the opportunity for physio again,” Gagne added.
"He'll have more room to walk around with the dog when we're visiting.
"We can have coffee in the hall. Hopefully, there's just more conversation, more interaction, with other visitors and residents.
“It will be nice to be settled," she concluded. "We're looking forward to just being settled and, I guess, being home.”
McTaggart, meanwhile, has been living at Pinecrest Home for the Aged in Kenora since last April.
“We are all looking forward to him coming home,” Gagne said.
“He will be very happy to come home; to receive care in his home town," she added. "He's earned that.”
Speaking more generally about the experience of waiting for admissions to resume at Rainycrest, Gagne said she wished Riverside had been “a little more forthright” in the interim.
“Any information they had was kept pretty quiet,” she remarked.
"It's been difficult running on rumours for the past year.
“I don't think the families have been treated fairly that way but it's happening. I'm glad it's happening,” added Gagne.
“We'll wait and see.”
Murray Wepruk is relieved his mother, Alice, who has been an ALC patient at La Verendrye Hospital since April, will be among those finally getting to move into Rainycrest.
“It's welcome news. It's going to be better hopefully,” he remarked.
“There's going to be more care for them, more activities for them, more space," Wepruk added. "It's going to be their home.”
Mayor June Caul, who also is president of the Rainycrest Auxiliary, said she was excited to learn the cease to admissions order was lifted—for the sake of area residents waiting to get into long-term care and their families, as well as health-care staff and administration here.
“It's been hard work for all of them and I know it's been very difficult at the hospital, working with the elderly,” she noted.
"They [the staff] are not even used to that.
“I think it made a big difference when they brought Extendicare in," Mayor Caul added. "They're experts who do this kind of thing and they've gotten it cleaned up probably faster than anybody else could have.”
She said it sometimes helps to have third party come in to address problems.
Mayor Caul also pointed out it's important to keep in mind that Rainycrest is not the only long-term care facility in Ontario to have had compliance issues.
“I don't know how serious the compliance issues were but obviously we're not the only one,” she stressed, adding sometimes such issues are a result of changes within the provincial government and health-care system.
As of late last week, there are 62 beds open at Rainycrest.
New Rainycrest admissions will be coming from the three hospitals in Fort Frances, Emo, and Rainy River, as well as others who currently live in their own residences or with their families.
At total of 29 patients are in Alternative Level of Care at La Verendrye Hospital alone. Some of these individuals have been at the hosptial for more than a year.
As part of Riverside's admission plan that was approved by the ministry, they have implanted a new documentation process and admissions procedures at Rainycrest. This will improve overall resident care and services in the home, like an electronic records system, as well as meets ministry guidelines.
Their staff has been working very hard to implement these new programs and procedures to best aid the admissions process moving forward and ensuring Riverside continues to improve the experience and satisfaction of the residents and their families.
All admissions are done through the Home and Community Care Team from the North West Local Health Integration Network (NW LHIN). The Home and Community Care Team assesses residents by performing multi-part assessments to help determine eligibility for long-term care. Priority is most often given to those that meet critical-need criteria.
Riverside told the Times on Monday that if someone is waiting to hear regarding admissions that contact is made via the LHINs team as well. They would best be able to answer your questions regarding admissions process and assessment procedures.
Riverside also indicated its approved admission plan anticipates its district hospitals will reach normal patient levels within two months—and Rainycrest will reach full capacity within four months.
“We wish to acknowledge the MOHLTC for their support and approval of our admission plan,” Riverside stated in a press release last Thursday.
"We are working closely with the Home and Community Care Team from the North West Local Health Integration Network to ensure a smooth process as we transition residents into their new home.
“Our partnership with Extendicare Assist, in support of management oversight for the home, ensures we continue to improve the experience and satisfaction of our residents and families,” it added.
The re-opening of the home is a tribute to the commitment and dedication of staff and management across Riverside Health Care.
While the Rainycrest team has been focusing efforts on addressing compliance orders, enhancing care, and implementing a new resident information system, Riverside said its other teams at La Verendrye General Hospital, the Emo Health Centre, and the Rainy River Health Centre have been providing quality care to almost double the regular patient volume.
“It is the resilience and exceptional efforts of our staff, management, board, and physicians that have brought us to this point today,” it noted.
“We would also like to thank patients, residents, families, caregivers, volunteers, auxiliaries, family and resident councils, and the district for their ongoing support during these challenging times,” Riverside added.
“We ask for your patience as residents transition from hospitals and our communities to Rainycrest.”
Now that admissions have resumed, Riverside said it “remains committed to providing excellent quality care in a safe and healthy environment, with the well-being of our residents a continued focus and priority.”
Further updates will be provided as they become available.