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AUPE secures legal services for Michener residents, families

Alberta Union of Provincial Employees says it has secured legal services for Michener Centre residents and their family members feeling pressured to move residents against their wishes.

The offer to help Michener families apply for a legal injunction comes after the province cut nursing care on Sundays and statutory holidays for the 89 remaining residents living in older institutional buildings on the north and south sites.

Starting next Sunday, staff will have to use HealthLink, a walk-in clinic or the nearest hospital to seek assistance for residents.

In March 2013, the province announced it was closing the older Michener buildings that 120 residents called home. Residents are to be moved out by the end of the year.

“If those family members are needing assistance legally so they are not being pressured by the government, we can ask for a stay so they are not pushed out of Michener,” said Jason Heistad, executive secretary-treasurer with the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, on Monday.

Michener families fear the reduction in nursing care could put residents at risk.

Heistad said services for residents are being chipped away. The on-site pharmacy services were eliminated May 1 and the on-site second-hand store operated by residents and staff was shut down on May 30.

“The government is going to continue to do this to force people to have their loved ones leave Michener.”

A judicial review of the decision to close Michener Centre has already been granted and will be heard at Court of Queen’s Bench in Edmonton on Nov. 27 and 28.

Heistad said people should not be pushed out of Michener before the judicial review.

Friends of Medicare is calling on Human Services Minister Manmeet Bhullar and Health Minister Fred Horne to take responsibility for the care and quality of services that Michener residents require on a daily basis and to immediately reverse the decision to reduce nursing services that leaves residents at risk.

“Withholding appropriate and timely medical services from the current residents is a cruel way to expedite a process that was put forward without consultation with the families of the residents of Michener Centre,” said Sandra Azocar, executive director of Friends of Medicare, in a press release.

Over the years the province had promised Michener Centre would be there for residents as long as it was their desired option.

New Democrat Health critic David Eggen called the reduction in nursing care callous and one that will undoubtedly endanger the care of residents with severe disabilities and particular health challenges.

He said all three PC leadership candidates must clarify their position on the closure of Michener Centre.

“Is this something that the PC leadership candidates are comfortable with — is this a policy that they’re willing to stand behind? These decisions are being made quickly, without consultation or even much advance notice, which is totally unfair to the families, and the residents themselves,” Eggen said in a press release.

szielinski@reddeeradvocate.com

 
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