Dementia care centre in south too old to save: province
EDMONTON — Health officials say while the closure of a dementia care centre in a southern Alberta community is regrettable, but the building is simply too old and underused.
Dave Shorten of Alberta Health Services said Tuesday that for years staff and maintenance crews have been fixing problems as best they could at the Little Bow Continuing Care Centre in the village of Carmangay, north of Lethbridge.
But time has caught up to the 54-year-old structure, he said.
Shorten said the roof needs to be replaced. Some of the bathrooms aren’t wheelchair accessible. Some of the patients are sharing four to a bathroom.
The plumbing is old cast iron. The elevator needs overhauling.
The fire alarms and emergency buzzers to summon nurses are no longer supported by the manufacturer. Replacement parts are hard to find.
There’s asbestos in the walls and work is needed to improve the air- handling system.
“The building does need major upgrades” said Shorten, acting vice-president of rural and community issues for the Calgary region.
The closure, announced earlier this month, has raised larger issues of urban versus rural and the best way to deliver care to seniors.
The centre is the major employer in the village, 65 kilometres north of Lethbridge. Area residents and families of the patients have held two rallies to protest the closure and to voice concerns that they were not consulted.
Opposition politicians from the Wildrose, the NDP and the Liberals have rallied to the cause. They suggest Little Bow is the first step on a dangerous slope that is leading to Premier Alison Redford’s government abandoning rural regions and closing care beds at a time of shortages.
Shorten said rural regions are not being abandoned. He noted that new care centres are going up in High River, Okotoks, Strathmore, and Nanton — all in southern Alberta.