Long-term beds hinging on community dollars

Emo and the surrounding area is being asked to come up with more than $500,000 to help upgrade the hospital there to handle the 12 long-term care beds slated to be transferred from Rainycrest Home for the Aged in Fort Frances next April 1.
Representatives from the surrounding townships, local roads boards, and First Nations tentatively were slated to meet with John Kellsey and Norma Elliott of Riverside Health Care Facility Inc. tomorrow night to decide a plan of attack–and get some more answers, Emo clerk Brenda Cooke said.
And Riverside’s board of directors is to discuss sending an official request that the community come up with dollars at its regular monthly meeting May 28.
Board chairman Pat Giles said Riverside applied to the Ministry of Health for $1.2 million to upgrade the Emo hospital. If the ministry comes through with that, the community still will have to come up with about $600,000 to contribute to the repairs.
“Failing that, we have to do something in order to make the building ready for the long-term care beds,” Giles noted, adding that would mean $500,000-$700,000 from the community. “Riverside doesn’t have the money.
“Obviously, I would think that they want those long-term care beds in their hospital,” he added.
But whether the community commits to the fundraising yet remains to be seen. Emo Reeve Brian Reid felt they needed to know exactly what was been done before they could go to the people asking for money, and who would be responsible for it.
“It’s a commitment and I don’t think we, as a community, should solely be the ones to raise the money,” Reeve Reid said, noting the entire catchment area should be responsible.
“To me, it would be more attractive if we were to get matching government dollars,” he added.
But Giles noted that was part of the problem–Riverside didn’t have an answer from the ministry. He said only those hospitals reviewed by a provincial restructuring commission were getting capital dollars.
“It’s a Riverside decision to invite them in to come and look at our operation,” he said.
But if Riverside does that, Giles felt it could risk having a commission recommend that they shut down the primary care hospital in Emo and he wondered if that was worth taking a gamble.
Riverside hasn’t discussed closing the hospital if the community won’t commit to the project, Giles added.
Emo isn’t the only community being asked to raise money. Giles noted Rainy River town council made a $1.2 million commitment to the new $5-million plus health care facility slated to open there next April 1.
“I’m sure it’s going to be a challenge but on the other side, they’ve known that there was some work that had to be done,” Giles said.
“If we want it to remain here, we will probably have to raise some money for it like other communities have,” echoed Reeve Reid, but questioned if they would be able to do it by the April 1 deadline.
Giles added Riverside would work with the community to try and give some leeway once it made the commitment to the project.
“I would hope that they would make a commitment,” he added.
Meanwhile, the province’s recent announcement of a $1.2-billion funding commitment for long-term care will have no impact on the transferring of beds to Emo and Rainy River.
“This funding is for new placements,” noted Dave Ross, with the Ministry of Health’s communications department, adding these were existing beds being transferred from one facility to another.
Emo currently houses 10 chronic and five acute-care beds.
Liz Clark, acting administrator of Riverside, said the Kenora-Rainy River District Health Council’s review of health services in 1993 recommended beds in both Emo and Rainy River be designated as long-term care to bring people as close to home as possible.