MANITOULIN—Long-term care homes around Manitoulin Island and Ontario have been able to allow for outdoor visits of their residents by members of their family for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic started.
Stephanie Barber, community relations co-ordinator with Jarlette Health Services, which operates the Manitoulin Lodge Nursing Home in Gore Bay, told the Recorder last Friday, “in accordance with the directives put forth by the provincial government, we have commenced outdoor visits at our home as of June 18. In addition to the infection prevention and control practices that we have and continue to uphold per public health, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Long Term Care, additional safety measures will reflect those outlined by the government during the announcement made on June 11 regarding long-term care home visits. The comfort, safety and well-being of all those we serve remain our top priority and we believe enhanced health and safety interventions are in the best interest of our residents, their family members, our tireless and dedicated team and the Gore Bay community at large.”
“We understand how challenging it has been for friends and family to be distanced from their loved ones and look forward to facilitating these visits and creating a positive and meaningful experience for all,” added Ms. Barber.
At a Manitoulin Centennial Manor board meeting last week, Tamara Beam, Manor administrator said, “today (Thursday) we start our outdoor family-resident visits, following all regulations in place. Family members will have to book (an appointment) to visit a resident of the Manor and have had a COVID-19 test in the previous 14 days, and wear a mask.” She pointed out one visitor is allowed to visit a resident per week for 30 minutes.
“Are you getting a lot of people making appointments to visit residents?” asked board chair Pat MacDonald.
“Yes, we have some next week, we are just waiting on the COVID-19 test results (for the visitors),” said Ms. Beam.
Ms. Beam informed the board, “at this time we have no (COVID-19) outbreak, no suspected cases and in our second testing done this month, 75 residents and 133 staff were tested with all tests being negative.
The Manor remains in a budget surplus position, Ms. Beam told the board.
Keith Clement of Extendicare provided the financial statement for May 2020. “I’ll expand on some of the points Tamara made,” he told the board. The overall financial position continues to be favourable for May; we had a surplus of $1,540 for the month; we had anticipated a deficit of $1,100. And the year to date expected surplus is $68,097. You will notice that the majority of this relates to repairs and maintenance.” He said that with the pandemic some items were put on hold, and others are going ahead to accommodate the resident visits. “As we move along we will see the surplus being brought down.”
“The other piece of news I would like to mention is that we’ve received pandemic funding in the neighbourhood of $99,000 for the period March-May,” stated Mr. Clement. “We’ve only spent a portion of these funds, and have $75,000 to spend. We haven’t had to deal with any outbreak thus far, and our PPE (personal protective equipment) supply is quite good.”
“And the costs relating to work to allow for the visitation of residents, we can put these costs toward the pandemic funding we received,” continued Mr. Clement. “We are in a good position on the budget, and we will look to maximize our pandemic funding. These funds are earmarked for pandemic use; we have spent some, and everything is being managed very well in the Manor. Our pandemic costs have not been as significant as long term-care homes that have had an outbreak (COVID-19).”
Board member Dan Osborne questioned, “if in the future we get into an outbreak situation, we would use the funds we have now. But if, say, six months down the line we do, has the government indicated it would provide more funding?”
“The government hasn’t announced more funding, but there is the potential for this occurring,” said Mr. Clement.
“So we have to be careful with this money we have been provided for anything possibly down the road,” said Mr. Osborne.
Mr. Clement said that the preparation for an outbreak is sometimes more important than the actual event. “One person drives an outbreak, and surveillance testing being is being done twice a month.”
“Have we heard anything concerning tax reconciliation from the government?” asked Chair MacDonald.
“No, and we haven’t received an announcement on our normal (government) funding for 2020, said Mr. Clement. However, he pointed out he has received news from the Extendicare finance department that a recent court ruling on GST-PST rebates was rendered in that they can be retroactive for up to four years.” He further explained, “Deloitte (accounting) would be willing to do work for the Manor at a cost in the $10,000-$15,000 range to get these tax rebates and (the Manor) would receive between $30,000-60,000.”
Board member Hugh Moggy questioned if the Manor has been receiving tax rebates in the past, and Mr. Clement said yes, they have, but there is the potential now since this court decision for long-term care homes to get more in rebates.
The board agreed to pass a motion for Extendicare to investigate this further.
“We will pursue the amount and hope that we get it,” said Chair MacDonald.