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Nursing home privatization no solution

I have three major concerns with the Advocate’s front page story, which appeared on the Jan. 28, regarding nursing home modernization being too costly (Vacant nursing homes too costly to modernize: AHS).

My first concern is that it appears Red Deer North MLA Mary Anne Jablonski and Alberta Health Services (AHS) feel that eliminating 215 nursing home beds and replacing them with fewer assisted living beds, which come with a much lower level of care, is the best solution to looking after the needs of Red Deer and Central Alberta seniors.

My second concern is that Jablonski says she suspects “… there are people who think they might want to use those buildings.” Incredulously, she then states she does not know the policy regarding selling the buildings to private companies, which would then pay to modernize them. If she does not know the policy, she should familiarize herself with it prior to speaking about it. This should not be difficult as the West Park Nursing Home was sold to a private operator.

The cost of bringing Valley Park Manor Nursing Home and the Red Deer Nursing Home up to today’s standards would be the same for a private operator as it would be for the government. A private operator, however, would need to purchase the existing buildings and land prior to proceeding with modernization. This would be expensive and would dramatically increase the private operator’s total cost. Higher cost would mean a private operator, just to break even, would have to charge seniors far more than if the government (AHS) operated the buildings. Factor in the considerable profit that a private operator would demand and the cost to seniors would go even higher.

To make matters even worse, a private operator’s assisted living facility would offer a much lower level of care and staffing than a government run nursing home would provide. Seniors would end up paying significantly more for significantly less. I would love to hear Jablonski’s explanation as to how this benefits seniors.

My third concern is that one day soon we will wake up to hear that the two nursing homes have been purchased, for next to nothing, by a PC-friendly company that will then convert them into assisted living facilities. This would permanently eliminate 215 continuing care beds.

By the way, where is Red Deer South MLA Cal Dallas in all this? The Red Deer Nursing Home is in his constituency, not Mary Anne Jablonski’s.

Michael O’Hanlon

Red Deer



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