Community pressure pushes IHA into talks with new care facility

Mona Mattei
By Mona Mattei
December 2nd, 2010

A 14 bed long-term care facility in Grand Forks may finally be opening its doors to customers after seven months of the cold shoulder from Interior Health Authority (IHA). After Broadacres care facility sat vacant for over seven months, owner Rod Gustafson is finally meeting with local long-term care co-ordinators in what he hopes will be the beginning of contract negotiations.   Gustafson, a Christina Lake resident and registered nurse, bought and renovated the facility because he recognized an urgent need for more long-term care beds for seniors in the area. But even though he finalized his licence for services with the province he has been unable to start operations. Gustafson said he has been faced with one hurdle after another in his attempts to get authorized through the contracting process with the province. In the meantime, all he was able to offer was private care which most people cannot afford.   Recently Gustafson decided to take his situation public to pressure the IHA by working with MLA John Slater, as well as local petitions, and letter campaigns.   “The whole process has been very difficult,” said Gustafson. “The call for tenders for contracting has been repeatedly delayed. I finally received a call from the head of the IHA residential care program and she talked with the local people and arranged a meeting to develop what I hope will be an interim contract.”   Even the cities of Greenwood, Midway and Grand Forks have written letters of support and local organizations have stepped up as well.   “Some seniors can afford private care facilities, but unfortunately many ill and at-risk seniors cannot, and must remain at home while waiting for a funded bed,” said Jim Reeves, president of the Midway branch of the Seniors’ Association of B.C. in a letter to the Boundary Hospital, copied Greenwood City Council. “Those too ill and/or incapacitated to manage at home occupy acute care beds in hospitals… What is truly puzzling is that a new, government inspected 14 bed care facility which would greatly reduce long-term pressure in our area sits empty in Grand Forks.”   Cost efficiency was also toted in Reeves’ letter where he noted that the price of an acute care hospital bed is approximately $800 per day while a placement at the Broadacres facility would be about one-quarter of the cost.   Some of the pressure that IHA is facing is coming from area residents in the form of an online petition. With 179 signatures as of today’s date, the petition is showing very credible need in the area for senior’s care facilities.   “We need to keep this facility and the government needs to support it too so that elderly persons can afford it,” commented a Grand Forks local on the petition site. “It’s important for families to stay close together when they are caring for parents. It’s not okay for us to ship parents to communities where they have no relatives to visit and support them.”   Gustafson said he has been told of at least three or four families whose parents have been sent to care facilities in Nakusp and New Denver while Broadacres sits empty. Still, he is encouraged by the upcoming meeting and look forward to getting services up and running. 

“There’s all these people who have had to leave the community,” said Gustafson. “It would be nice to have had this open by Christmas, but that’s pushing me because I would have to scramble now to hire staff. If they had gotten hold of me sooner maybe we could have had people home for Christmas. I hope that the New Year will be good for everyone.” 



Categories: GeneralHealthIssues