Fears over Dr. Cooke eased

By Geoff Lee

June 22, 2017 12:00 AM

CONFIDENCE LEVEL HIGH Graham Brown, chair of the Lloydminster Concerned Citizens for Seniors Care, and vice-chair Len Pryor in the background, are more confident today than they were at their AGM on June 8, that the probable demolition of two old wings of the Dr. Cooke Extended care facility will not leave a long-term gap in continuing care beds. FILE LLS PHOTO

Lloydminster seniors are no longer fearful the demolition of the south and central wings of the Dr. Cooke Extended Care facility would leave a long-term gap in continuing care services.
After two consecutive weekly meetings at the Royal Hotel headed by Alberta Health Services (AHS), the Lloydminster ConcernedCitizens for Senior’s Care Society is confident demolition and reconstruction can occur within a three to four-year time frame.
“I think there was a pretty good consensus at the end of the meeting that everybody should be supportive of demolishing the south and central wings, and get on with planning and building a new building there,” said Graham Brown, chair of the senior’s society.
The rebuild will follow the guidelines of the Lloydminster Integrated Health Services and Facility Infrastructure Needs Assessment of 2014, and check off seniors’ needs for respite, convalescent, and palliative care beds.
“They still think that’s exactly what should go there and we agree entirely with that,” said Brown the day after the June 20 meeting.
“We have always agreed with their vision of what should go there some day, but we thought that some day was going to be sometime away.”
Brown had previously voiced concerns about a possible 15-year time lag to build what the needs assessment outlines.
“Now there was quite a bit of talk at these meeting of everyone working together to get that built as soon as possible,” said Brown.
This week’s meeting included representation from AHS, Alberta Infrastructure, the Prairie North Health Region board, the Lloydminster Region Health Foundation the Lloydminster & District Health Advisory Council, and Vermilion-Lloydminster MLA Dr. Richard Starke.
“There wasn’t a specific decision derived at,” said Starke about Dr. Cooke.
“The meeting was more to have a back and forth discussion with regards to what the future of seniors’  care in a broader perspective for Lloydminster and area is going to be.”
He said the role the Dr. Cooke facility would play in that was the centre of discussion.
Starke noted demolishing the two old wings is what AHS recommends to the minister who wants to consult with the community before a decision on that is made.
“This was part of that process in making sure that commitment was fulfilled,” said Starke.
He noted the bi-provincial working group also planned to meet this week.
Alberta Health Minister Sarah Hoffman told the Source in an email, “The community was clear that they want to know what the plan is for seniors’ care in the region, and they want to see government on both sides of the border, as well as all stakeholders, working together as we move forward.
“AHS and the ministry are now compiling the feedback and questions we heard into a report that will be sent back to participants.”
Hoffman said anyone who was unable to attend the engagement sessions can send an e-mail on the future of the Dr. Cooke facility and seniors care to community.engagement@albertahealthservices.ca before June 26 to be included in the report.
Starke said once the public engagement period is completed, the minister will have a recommendation in front of her in regards to the future of the Dr. Cooke, not just in terms of the existing facility, but also what is going to be happening on a going forward basis.
The needs assessment notes the rebuild timeframe for Dr. Cooke depends on how quickly a Request For Proposal could be developed.
The assessment says the project could also potentially be completed within about two years, but three years may be more realistic.
The demolition option offers the quickest turnaround since the Prairie North Region Health authority has the land appropriately zoned.
“That’s the guiding document that was agreed to and was signed off by both governments in July 2014 in terms of which would guide in the delivery of not just services, but in infrastructure needs of the community going forward,” said Starke.
Brown planned to meet with his fellow seniors this week to decide where their group goes from here on Dr. Cooke.
“If the government is looking at replacing that in the short term, then our objection isn’t there any more, but we’re still concerned that those commitments get followed through on,” said Brown.
Brown said he was given a commitment from AHS to come to one of their weekly meetings in the fall.
He said officials plan to inform seniors about what’s going to go in that new building and what their vision for that is, and the process of how they are going to make that all happen.
The needs assessment envisions the demolition and rebuild of the two old wings will complement the services of the facility’s north wing, Points West Living, Dr. James W. Hemstock Assisted Living Residence and Hearthstone Place. Brown noted in the original proposals for Dr. Cooke, there were some renovations that would take place in the administration area and the north wing.
“So they are going to demolish and go ahead with the renovations that were originally proposed,” he said.

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