Ministry seeks extension on Rainycrest

The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care is asking for permission to retain control of Rainycrest Home for the Aged here for an additional six months beyond the one-year anniversary of the provincial takeover which occurred last March.
“On Friday [Feb. 24], we officially requested consent of the Rainycrest board of management for an extension of up to six months on this control order,” ministry spokesperson Dan Jensen noted Monday afternoon.
“Basically, this would be to allow an independent operational review to be conducted on the governance, financial, and care systems at Rainycrest,” he added.
Fort Frances Mayor Dan Onichuk, who chairs the Rainycrest board, said they discussed the request at their meeting Friday, and will present the information to municipal representatives at a special forum on district health care slated for this Saturday (March 4).
“Once we have had a full discussion, then we will make a final decision at that time,” he said.
Mayor Onichuk noted the board does have some reservations about the request.
“We were advised by Tim Burns [director of the Long-Term Care Homes branch of the ministry] last June that they were going to be performing this operational review and have it done by the end of January.
“Now they’re asking for a six-month extension to do an operational review,” he said.
“If that’s the only reason, we’ve got some problems with that. How long are we going to wait?” the mayor wondered.
Jensen said the ministry recognizes the “significant progress” that has taken place since it placed Rainycrest in the hands of Riverside Health Care Facilities, Inc. on an interim basis last March 18.
“There’s still a need to look at long-term solutions in terms of governance and management,” he noted.
“We just wanted to move forward co-operatively, so we’re approaching it in this fashion,” Jensen added. “We’re just hoping they’ll be agreeable.”
“Our first blush at it is, no, we’re not in favour of that,” Mayor Onichuk said.
“We’re going to listen to what the municipalities have to say,” he added. “Ultimately, it’s the board of management’s decision to do it or not, but we definitely want to fill everybody in on what’s going on, what our perspective is on it.”
Jensen said the ministry would need to know the board’s decision before the one-year anniversary of the takeover.
Saturday’s district health care forum is open to all elected officials in Rainy River District, and will cover issues such as the Fort Frances Clinic, the Local Health Integration Networks, land ambulance service, as well as Rainycrest.
Mayor Onichuk said he plans to hold a second meeting for the general public at a later date.