Manitoulin Lodge likely to lose 17 beds as province mandates end to multi-bed wards

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Additional burden of care will be borne by Island’s hospital sector

GORE BAY – The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting many lives across the globe and the ripple effects of the efforts to combat the spread of the virus are having unforeseen consequences. One of those consequences is the loss of as many as 17 beds at the Manitoulin Lodge long-term care facility in Gore Bay.

The Lodge is the only nursing home on Manitoulin that still has a ward system for some of its residents and new regulations out of the province mean that ward rooms will no longer be allowed. The Lodge is not the only home facing this situation. Max Stern, a public relations consultant for the Ontario Long-term Care Association noted that the association had run its own simulation on the numbers across the province should such a policy be implemented immediately.

“We do have information I can share on the reduction of beds across the province without three and four bedroom wards,” said Mr. Stern. “It is approximately 4,000.”

The beds at the Lodge will be phased out through attrition, but the strain that the loss of beds could place on the long-term care situation on Manitoulin could be severe. The impact will be felt much further, however, as the ripples stretch out to Manitoulin Health Centre (MHC).

“We have heard that directly related to COVID, the province will be closing three and four bed wards,” said Paula Fields, vice president of clinical services at the MHC. “The hospital is definitely concerned.” She noted that while the hospital currently had a manageable number of alternative level of care (ALC) patients, that situation could rapidly change, especially with any reduction in long-term care beds on the Island. “We anticipate that they are going to go up,” said Ms. Fields.

The potential increase in ALC patients, those who are awaiting transfer to a bed in a long-term care facility, is concerning on many levels—not just the strain those ALC patients place on acute care beds.

“The hospital is not the best place for ALC patients,” said Ms. Fields. “They usually have a higher rate of infection and they would not be getting the stimulus that is available in a proper long-term care setting.” Long-term care homes have activity programs geared to improving the quality of life of their residents, something that hospitals are not set up for and for which they lack the resources. “All around it is not good,” said Ms. Fields.

It is no secret that Jarlette, the manager of the Manitoulin Lodge has been seeking permission from the province to rebuild its facility for a number of years now, but so far that permission has not been forthcoming, despite numerous announcements of increased long-term care bed funding by the province.

The Expositor reached out for comment from Jarlette, but received no response as of press time Monday.