Long-term Care Facilities in Vegreville a Hot Topic
The issue of long-term care facilities was broached during the legislative committee meeting of Vegreville town council on June 2.
During councilor reports, Coun. Jerrold Lemko talked about the newspaper article that appeared in the Journal regarding the request from AHS (Alberta Health Services) to Dr. Hinshaw for the Vegreville Century Park and other care facilities for seniors the ability to have staff work in numerous locations rather than isolated to their one place of work.
“And that’s a concern of some of the residents that this was put in place to protect the most vulnerable, and now we’re going to have those workers transferring from one site to another. I don’t believe a decision has been made. It’s certainly an item that’s a hot topic. I don’t know where we stand on that as council or if we have any control or say in this matter.”
Coun. Taneen Rudyk said she had received a few phone calls from family members of residents previously, but as a council they have a limited scope in terms of how they can advocate and how they can approach this issue.
Rudyk said being a rural community it was in poor taste the story came out at the end of rural health professionals week and the beginning of seniors week. “I don’t believe it’s (the exemption) been approved by Dr. Hinshaw but that facility has not been adhering to the recommendations that were put in place for the entire province. And I would think that after a lifetime of hard work and dedicated devotion to this community that once they retire that citizens should be allowed to age in their own community in a place that’s both respectful and providing the appropriate care.
What I’ve heard from some of family members is concerning, particularly given that we have had some very positive stories of seniors being able to receive caring compassionate care in our community at a time when they are really isolated. So there’s really a big concern that not only is covid is amplifying the concerns, and I think that as a municipal government we’ve seen that ourselves that if there’s a crack sometimes the pressure that’s covid is putting on the systems that are potentially not working at their best its making it more challenging.
There were some family members that have had their family members pass or move during this time frame and they weren’t disappointed that they didn’t have to put their family member back in that facility. And again, I guess I would be concerned that as a community we are being represented that way in the media and secondly that we are also not be able to in a rural community expect that our seniors would be treated with the same kind of care and attention. Even the audit that was conducted, because there were concerns that were brought forward at the health advisory council meeting. She felt it might be elevate that concern and she encourage the MLA and the appropriate authorities to make sure There is another part for us as municipal leaders that we need to protect our residents in rural communities, and it been obvious that we’ve done a great job. I am concerned.”
Rudyk said she had four phone calls and have told these residents to call Alberta Health.
Mayor MacPhee said that in the past he had personally gotten ahold of Alberta Health after the privatization, and that Alberta Health had done their inspections and gave back a couple of recommendations there. I’ve heard back from some of those same residents that Alberta Health announces their inspection dates a week ahead and they end up following them, (Alberta Health) around and that staff are not allowed to say anything.
“But as a municipality all we can do is keep reporting. We have no legal means to hold that private company to any type of anything. All we can do is get ahold of the province and hopefully the province will step in and do something about it.”
He encouraged Rudyk to get ahold of Alberta Health about the condition their loved ones are living in. Rudyk responded that she would encourage the residents about the conditions their loved ones are living in right now.
Rudyk said she was sure he could understand the challenges associated with that. “If loved one is in a compromised condition and they being cared for, and you can’t enter the facility or be a part of evaluating how things are proceeding, your trusting somebody that you’re criticizing to be able to continue providing that level of care. And these are often people that are dementiaed and on the alzheimers spectrum.”
She added that the people who called her were very concerned and she had encouraged them to contact Alberta Health. She said she knew people who were happier driving two hours away and that is the direct opposite of what they would want. “We want to encourage people to continue to live in the community close to their families.”