Riverside among three proposals to manage Rainycrest

The management of Rainycrest Home for the Aged here should be assigned in the next week after the home’s board of management received three proposals and forwarded them to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
While Fort Frances Mayor Dan Onichuk, who chairs the Rainycrest board, declined to comment on who the three proposals were from, Craig Sanders, board chair for Riverside Health Care Facilities, Inc., confirmed Riverside had submitted a proposal by Friday’s deadline.
“Rainycrest called [Riverside CEO] Wayne [Woods] on Friday to answer a couple of questions,” Sanders said. “I don’t know the result of that.”
Riverside also faxed some information of its own to the ministry on Monday, he added.
At a special meeting last week, Sanders asked municipal leaders from across the district to pressure the Rainycrest board to put the management of the home into the hands of Riverside on an interim basis.
Mayor Onichuk noted the ministry would decide who would manage the home based on proposals received by the deadline.
The Rainycrest board had received a letter from the ministry on Feb. 22, asking it to collect management proposals from interested parties and forward them to the ministry.
“That was triggered by the board’s acceptance of Jill [Colquhoun]’s retirement,” Mayor Onichuk noted.
Colquhoun, the home’s administrator, submitted her letter of retirement to the board at its January meeting. She will be retiring later this month.
The board also was asked to recommend one of the proposals to the ministry.
“A recommendation has been made,” Mayor Onichuk confirmed this morning, but he would not reveal which one it was.
The final decision is now in the hands of the ministry. “In our discussions, they [the ministry] assured me they would be responding quickly,” the mayor added.
Discussions of amalgamation between Rainycrest and Riverside began last year as the two boards looked for ways to improve efficiency and reduce costs.
Talks came to an impasse in early February as the two boards could not agree on a governance model.
The Rainycrest board preferred an amalgamated board with members appointed by the district municipalities—since they contribute between $1.3 and $1.5 million to the home’s budget every year.
“We don’t feel that is necessary,” Sanders said, adding the Riverside board has members from across the district, although they are not appointed by municipalities.
Beyond that was the question of how the new board would operate.
“Our board sets policy. We do not get involved in the day-to-day management of the facilities,” Sanders noted of the Riverside board.
The Rainycrest board, on the other hand, takes an active role in everyday management of the home.
“There are no clear lines of structure or decision-making,” Sanders said of the Rainycrest model.
He noted staff who are not happy with management decisions simply can approach the Rainycrest board and have those decisions overturned, leaving management with no authority.
“The impasse has come because, frankly, our model works managerially and their model doesn’t,” Sanders said.