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VCH a no-show at town hall

Health Care

A key player will be absent at next week’s town hall on Vancouver Coastal Health’s (VCH) decision to close the Shorncliffe and Totem Lodge residential care facilities and enter into a contract with the private company Trellis Group.

The meeting is being organized by Powell River-Sunshine Coast MLA Nicholas Simons. Simons invited VCH, Trellis Group, the BC Care Providers Association, the BC Nurses Union, and others.

The health authority, however, won’t be attending.

VCH’s Anna Marie D’Angelo said, “VCH won’t be able to have anyone at the meeting because people are on vacation and we also have an open board forum that day that senior leaders are attending.

“We recognize that there is misinformation in the community and will be addressing this in the next week by posting information on our website that answers questions,” D’Angelo added. “VCH also will host an open house on the Sunshine Coast in early fall to address any other community questions and explain the benefits of the project for seniors and the community.”

VCH has already countered one concern it thinks is based on misinformation – the idea that people will face higher fees when they transfer to Trellis Group’s new Silverstone Care Centre in 2018.

“That’s absolutely false. These are publicly-funded beds and the funding formulas are based on provincial policy, not on individual sites,” D’Angelo told Coast Reporter. “Most of VCH’s publicly-funded residential care beds are provided through contract – in the vicinity of 75 per cent -– so this is not something new that we are doing.”

The changes proposed by VCH in Sechelt have also sparked questions in the community about the future of Christenson Village in Gibsons, which is run by the Good Samaritan Society.

Good Samaritan recently moved to sell a similar facility it owns in Nanaimo. It laid off more than 100 people at Wexford Creek in 2014, and offered them new positions at lower pay, saying at the time that their agreement with the Vancouver Island Health Authority didn’t provide enough money to meet rising costs.

“Of the 29 care homes we operate in Alberta and British Columbia, Wexford Creek is the only one where we have given notice that care and services will be contracted out and that we are selling the care home. It is an unfortunate situation,” said Julie Williams, director of communications and media relations with Good Samaritan.

“There are absolutely no plans to sell or contract out services at Christenson Village in Gibsons. We have a good working relationship with the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, and would actually be pleased to expand our mission in Gibsons if the opportunity presented itself.”

Simons’ town hall will take place June 29 at the Sechelt Seniors Activity Centre from 7 to 9 p.m. VCH has not yet set a date for its open house.