South Peace News
Some rumours are true! Some are not!
Rumours that the long-term care facility, Manoir du Lac, in McLennan will close are not true, according to Albertan Health Services [AHS].
Manoir du Lac will remain open. The 62 residents plus current staff at Manoir du lac in McLennan, as well as their family members, do not need to worry about Alberta Health Services’ decision to terminate their contract with Integrated Life Care Inc. [ILC], owner/operators of the facility.
Cindy Harmata, AHS senior operating officer, Area 5-8, North Zone, confirms AHS provided ILC with six months’ notice of termination Sept. 15. Since that time, rumours have swirled about the future of the facility staying open or closing.
“AHS remains committed to residents, families and staff throughout the transition, and AHS – as the administrator – will continue to oversee the operations of the facility,” says Harmata in a Nov. 24 news release.
Harmata adds, “AHS has been keeping residents, families and staff informed of developments at Manoir du Lac and committed to the community that AHS will continue to support the facility. AHS leadership is willing to meet with the town council, but a date has not yet been set.”
AHS entered into a 30-year agreement with ILC to provide services at Manoir du Lac in 2007. AHS has not made any public statement why this agreement is apparently now being cancelled.
It also does not appear AHS informed everyone involved. At its meeting Nov 8, McLennan town council appeared very confused about what was going on. Council received a letter which they shared with each other but did not discuss publicly except for Mayor Jason Doris to ask, “How do we want to go
Town of McLennan Sue Delaurier responded saying the Town should contact AHS for a meeting; however, CAO Lorraine Willier replied she tried to contact AHS for that reason with no success.
It also prompted a comment from Councillor Marie-Anne Jones regarding the rumours of closing or staying open.
“Two different stories, it’s crazy.”
Meanwhile, Councillor Maggie Gervais said she heard a rumour Manoir du Lc was closing while Councillor Margaret Jacob heard it was staying open.
And Delaurier added she has heard all sorts of rumours at her job at the local post office.
In short, Doris asked a simple question.
“What the heck’s going on?”
Gene Zinyk is a shareholder in ILC. After the termination of notice, he shared several letters with South Peace News, including AHS’s letter to terminate the agreement.
“Pursuant to recent actions by ILC, including but not limited to interfering with staffing Manoir du Lac by not extending the current director of care’s contract and issuing directions to stop health care aide agency staffing, AHS is of the opinion that these actions materially and adversely affect the ability of ILC to perform. . .” reads a letter from AHS officials Rene Lessard, executive director, direct patient care and general services contracting, and Greg Cummings, chief zone officer, North Zone.
“Under the termination date, the status quo will be maintained.”
Zinyk strongly disagrees. In a letter to Town of McLennan former Mayor Michele Fournier dated Sept. 23, he writes “AHS’s reasons for cause are at the very best weak. At no time did [ILC] interfere with staffing at Manoir du Lac that would cause any shortage in staffing or bring inadequate care to our clients.’’
He added the director of care’s contract was set to expire Sept. 28 and that she notified ILC of her desire to leave prompting ILC to search for a replacement.
“[We] were able to secure a well-qualified director of care who had worked in a management position within [AHS] and meets all the requirements to be an excellent director of care for Manoir du Lac.
“He will provide stability, lives within the community and is well-known in the community and by [AHS].”
In the letter, Zinyk asked council for their help in “overturning” AHS’s termination notice.
However, former Councillor Dwayne Stout says he never saw Zinyk’s letter, nor was it ever presented to council in public. It is not known if the letter actually made its way into the town office.
Zinyk also wrote new Alberta Minister of Health Jason Copping Oct. 19 telling his side of the story.
“In March of 2020, the facility was struck by the COVID-19 pandemic which was brought in by some of our employees. By the end of March 2020, we lost 50 per cent of our employee base due to isolation protocol, positive cases and not sharing employees with other sites. The residents were affected as well and we lost nine residents due to COVID-19. April 28, 2020 was the last date that there was COVID-19 in the facility.”
April 17, 2020, an Alberta government order was given to AHS to take over management of Manoir du Lac due to staff shortage. The order lasted nine months.
After, ILC agreed to sell the operations to a qualified purchaser approved by AHS and a standstill agreement put in place so neither party would take any actions to disrupt the process.
However, the termination notice came Sept 15, which Zinyk says clearly affects their ability to sell the operations. Basically, ILC is now trying to sell a purpose built facility with no contract to provide long-term services. There are 16 years left in the 30-year contract.
Zinky wrote Copping asking with current shortages in long-term care and designated assisted living in Alberta, “Does AHS want to create more shortages than already exists, especially in rural Alberta.”
He also asks if AHS wants to “get rid of” privately run facilities and have AHS operate them all.
Zinyk also pulled no punches in direct criticism toward Cummings and Harmata.
“They have a personal agenda against us, some of our staff and want to close down this facility.”
However, Harmata’s Nov. 24 statement promising the facility will remain open contradicts Zinyk’s claim.
AHS wrote in their Sept. 15 letter they would work with ILC to discuss and coordinate the transition of services at Manoir du Lac.
However, AHS also requested ILC do the following: “Please ensure that clients, family and media are not contacted. AHS will handle all communications.”
AHS issued no news releases to media regarding the operations at Manoir du Lac until last week.
Meanwhile, Zinyk complied with AHS’s request to not contact media until last week when rumours were swirling and he was contacted by South Peace News.
Zinyk says AHS’ concerns are “unfounded and very weak” about ILC’s operations.
“By giving this notice, no one in the community and within the facility itself, really knows what is going to happen. Notices given out looked like the facility is to close and residents would have to move. Same for staff,” adds Zinyk.
“They [employees] don’t know if they will have a job come March and many are starting to look elsewhere.”
Zinyk says ILC is working “for a suitable solution to this termination, AHS is not bending at all and are virtually bullying their way through this crisis.”
He had a suggestion for AHS.
“They have to emphatically state that Manoir du Lac will not close and they are working towards a satisfactory solution between ILC and themselves. This will settle down the rumours and bring back confidence in the overall operations.”
Harmata’s statement appears to comply with Zinyk’s request.
“Our first and most important priority is to ensure safe and uninterrupted care for the residents at Manoir du Lac,” says Harmata.
“Residents will continue to receive the care they need, and staff will remain informed through any necessary transition.”
Central Peace – Notley MLA Todd Loewen’s office issued a statement saying he is trying to meet with AHS.
“I am committed to looking for answers regarding the continuity of care for the residents of Manoir du Lac and for those in the region who deserve seniors’ housing close to home,” he says.
“Regardless of the dispute between the facility owner and AHS, seniors in the Smoky River area should not be caught in the crossfire. The most important thing, and my top priority here, is that seniors continue to have access to housing beyond March 2022 and I will demand that the ministry provide this for our people,” concludes Loewen.
South Peace News also reached out to the M.D. of Smoky River, Town of Falher and Village of Donnelly for comment. Only Donnelly responded.
“The Village of Donnelly did write a letter to the Minister of Health on Oct. 12,” says Mayor Mryna Lanctot.
“Council asked Minister Copping what the plans are for Manoir Du Lac once AHS takes over. The Village of Donnelly’s primary concern is to confirm that our residents will continue to have access to local care and that the facility stays operating while meeting all health guidelines.”