Every evening Marilyn Parsons leaves her home and walks half a block to see her husband, Doug, at The Grenfell & District Pioneer Home – a daily tradition that could be over in just a few weeks.
On Thursday, residents at the long-term care home were informed an assessment of the northeast wing showed it was too dangerous for people to continue living there. As a result, eight residents will have to be relocated.
The Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region said there was significant deterioration and risk in the wing.
Marilyn was at the meeting;; she said they were told there were 2x4s rotting for a while, shingles needing to be replaced and that the building wasn’t built properly in the first place.
The eight people affected will be moved to vacant beds in either the Broadview Centennial Lodge or the Wolseley Memorial Integrated Health Centre. As of Friday, the region hadn’t identified who will be moving, but said they want to have the move finished within two to three weeks.
“I walked out of there before the meeting was over … I was next to tears,” said Marilyn.
She said no one knew this was coming. She wasn’t aware of the meeting until a few days before, and she said some family of residents didn’t know about it at all.
Marilyn doesn’t want her husband to have to move; Doug has lived in Grenfell his entire life and the town is a big part of him. She said Doug, a former farmer, sometimes likes to drive around and see how people are doing with harvest.
“If they can build a stadium for how many millions of dollars, why can’t we have about, I’d estimate somewhere around four, five, six million around here for new long-term care.”
“Here in town there are couples and people going by to see him, stop in and see him, they’ve known him since he was a kid,” said Marilyn, adding this is the case for many who live in the home.
If Doug is moved, Marilyn said she’ll have to move with him as she doesn’t want to be driving on the highway when it’s -30 C for a visit.
She said there had been significant problems at the home for years, describing duct tape lining the floors and radiators that can’t be cleaned.
According to Marilyn, they can’t install air conditioning in the building and there’s no place to put equipment in the building, with it often being stored in the hallways and in patients’ rooms.
The health region said the home has been one its top priorities for years. Maggie Petrychyn, executive director for rural primary healthcare services with the RQHR, said ongoing issues have been addressed at the home in the past, but any capital spending needs to be approved by the Ministry of Health.
For Marilyn, this situation is especially exasperating because the community has been trying for years to either have something done about the condition of the home or to have a new one built. She said a large amount of money was raised a few years ago, but nothing was done with it.
As for a fix, Marilyn wants the province to step in to help Grenfell get a new facility.
“If they can build a stadium for how many millions of dollars, why can’t we have about, I’d estimate somewhere around four, five, six million around here for new long-term care?”
Petrychyn said the health region will work with families to help facilitate requests such as if someone would like to be moved to a care facility other than Broadview or Wolsley, or would like to be moved to a different health region.
Petrychyn said the decision for Grenfell wasn’t made lightly, and the health region recognizes it’s hard for everyone involved.
“I don’t think anybody really anticipated that that’s what was going to end up happening.”
The region said it will initially focus on moving residents who aren’t originally from Grenfell, and will strive to minimize the number of transfers required.
According to Petrychyn, the health region has put some operational changes in place to address issues in other parts of the home, but the region has not made a decision about what will happen with the rest of the building. The region said this will give it time to consult on the next steps.