Province, Smith to be commended for righting long-term care bed wrong

It was a cold and rainy day in late May, 2012 when a staff member at Picton Manor picked up the phone and called your humble scribe, requesting a media member’s presence at an upcoming meeting.

While the full details weren’t being provided immediately about what this session was concerning, it was to involve residents and family members as well some Manor staff and it was made clear something important was going to come as Ministry of Health and Longterm Care officials would also be included.

The mood was tense and the raw emotion of the news disseminated that day was evident on everyone’s faces-residents, family members and staff alike.

The owner of the 78-bed facility had essentially washed his hands of the operation. Required safety upgrades to the electrical and fire suppression systems either couldn’t or wouldn’t be made to the Class D facility, leading to the Electrical Safety Association to post Picton Manor as having an “immense threat to life’.

The Ministry was stepping in, handing over operations to a third party group that would pay the outstanding bills the home had incurred during a period of delinquency, help facilitate the relocation of residents and employ staff as the home was slowly vacated and eventually shuttered.

The beds at Picton Manor would no longer be part of the local array and long-term care spaces would become even more scarce. This was not good news for an aging community dependant on care spaces for its elderly.

Staff were visibly shaken.

Residents were reduced to tears.

Family members gnashed their teeth and pondered publically about the prospect of safely and comfortably moving mom or dad to a new home, likely somewhere outside of Prince Edward County and having their parent(s) acclimate successfully.

The contrast to the weather from that damp May day to Friday’s sun soaked skies and pleasant conditions was stark as the news on both days. Years after campaigning and pleading with Ministry of Health and Longterm Care officials who couldn’t or wouldn’t provide this community a commitment to make an allocation of beds to replace those that left in the wake of Picton Manor closing, Bay of Quinte MPP Todd Smith and his government delivered on a promise.

Smith has been well versed and has known the lay of the land in Prince Edward County when it comes to our slightly larger-than-average and growing population of the silver set.

The MPP knows the crunch when it comes to rental accommodations in Prince Edward County and how countless seniors from our community have had to leave the only place they’ve ever known as home because there weren’t long-term care beds available locally.

And our provincial representative at the Ontario Legislature knew that when the time came, beds being allocated to H.J. McFarland Home, a municipally owned and operated long-term care facility in need of critical mass and investment would be the best place for an announcement of new beds from the province.

This space has been critical of the Ford Government in recent weeks and that criticism is warranted.

However, Smith and his government should be applauded loudly for recognizing the need for long-term care beds in Prince Edward County and making the commitment and investment in care for our senior population.

It’s been a long, dark road to regain those beds lost in the Picton Manor closure in 2012 but credit to Smith and company for bringing some much needed light to Prince Edward County by way of this recent announcement.

Thank you MPP Smith.