LITTLE CURRENT – The board of the Manitoulin Centennial Manor received the troubling news last week that its annual funding would be cut effective August 1. Despite this, board chair Pat MacDonald assures the residents of the long-term care facility, and the residents’ loved ones, that there will be no change to the excellent quality of care those residents currently receive.
“We’re in good shape and still have a comfortable surplus,” Ms. MacDonald told The Expositor when contacted for comment following last week’s board meeting, “but the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has made a significant cut starting in August.”
Effective August 1, the Manor will lose $35,000 in funding from that date until December 31. The following year, the cutback will increase to $76,000.
“It might not seem like a lot, but it’s very significant because we only have a 60-bed home,” the chair continued. “We’re still going through capital purchases for 2019 (including a commercial oven valued at upwards of $10,000) and we’re still going forward with the HVAC improvements. In the long run, we have to do repairs and prefer to not do them on an emergency basis.”
Ms. MacDonald said the board will be reviewing its capital improvement plan and delaying some items and may have to pull some money from its brand-new (and formerly controversial) reserve account for other items.
Since the reserve account came into being in recent months, the Manor has been putting $10,000 into it each month, but that may be discontinued due to the recent cuts, Ms. MacDonald said. The reserve account is currently sitting at $46,000.
“Our director of care and administrator are looking at reconfiguring our staffing rather than using (more costly) agency staff,” Ms. MacDonald continued, noting that the personal support worker shortage also affects the Manor.
“We’re still in a surplus position, but we’re pretty annoyed with the provincial government for doing this to us,” she added. “They talk about improving quality at long-term care facilities and then they do this. We will continue to provide an excellent long-term care home, but we will have to work on cost overages.”
One positive thing that came from the recent provincial announcement was the provision that monies given to the facility specifically for registered practical nurses can now be used for registered nurses.
And while the care needs level of the Manor has gone up over the last few months, the province only gave a one percent per resident increase for 2019. The Manor had budgeted for a two percent increase “and they took away an additional $35,000 in other areas,” the chair noted.
“We just want people to know that the level of care will remain the same, so please don’t panic. We’re looking at other places we can save. We will keep the care level at a high quality. We’re not panicking about it, and Tamara (Beam, administrator) and Deb (Selent, director of care) already have ideas.”
Ms. MacDonald reminded the public that the Manor already does an excellent job at avoiding costly capital purchases through extensive fundraising thanks to fundraising chair Wendy Gauthier, “and we take our hats off to her.”
“Rest assured, we’re fine,” Ms. MacDonald added. “We’re not going out of business.”