Protests sparked by AHS long-term care decision
On May 10, protesters could be found outside of the Strathmore hospital, opposing a recent decision from Alberta Health Services (AHS).
The decision, which was announced in April, is that the 23 long-term care (LTC) residents in the hospital will be moved into the Sagewood Seniors Community later this year. Staff members who work in the LTC at the hospital will be out of jobs, though they were told they are welcome to apply for other jobs within AHS.
“Across the street, that’s the kicker isn’t it. That’s the beating we’re taking. And they’re telling us there’s nothing we can do,” said Brenda Trottier, who works for AHS in the hospital.
She has been working in the Strathmore Hospital for 11 years and has lived here for six of those years, and is now being told that her livelihood is being taken right out from under her, and she will be forced to commute to another AHS job provided there is one within 100 km. If she refuses, then the assumption will be that she quit. Trottier was told there will be no severance pay because there are other jobs available with AHS. The plan is to fully shut down the hospital LTC by Oct. 1, only two months before Christmas.
Trottier’s biggest concern is for the long-term care residents and their safety. She worries some of the residents in the hospital may not fit into the guidelines for Sagewood; some might be younger than what is technically considered seniors.
One of the biggest problems she has with privatized seniors care facilities is the fact that they fall under the accommodations act.
“The fact that they are not held to the same standards we are, that’s a very big concern, they don’t even have to call an ambulance when somebody falls,” said Trottier.
This issue was brought to the forefront on May 9 when it was announced that AgeCare in Brooks is being investigated after alleged reports of abuse.
“These are the concerns we’ve been bringing up for years now since they started bringing in these private contractors, we knew when profit becomes involved and chasing the dollar becomes more important than providing care (there would be problems),” said Vice-President with the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees Glen Scott.
“What happened in Brooks is a prime example, I hate to say we told you so, but it’s not the first time it’s happened and it’s not going to be the last and the more that we shift to these private for profit long term care centres, the more these things are going to happen.”
Trottier feels once the patients are there, it’s private and there is no one checking on it other than the families. Another concern is the number of foreign workers at Sagewood. She doesn’t think the time will really be taken to get to know the dementia patients, or that there could be language barriers.
“What kills me about the region and the politics and everything else is I see the other end of it. Nothing is done until somebody dies,” said Trottier. “They’re the silent minority now, they stood up for us, now we stand up for them, that’s why we’re here.”
In Phase Two of the Sagewood facility there are 35 beds designated for LTC, but once the 23 residents from the hospital are sent to Sagewood, and there will only be 12 beds available. Currently there are 14 Strathmore residents living in homes in Calgary who want to move back closer to home. On May 17 there will be another protest outside of the Sagewood facility. A big rally is also being organized for Kinsmen Park on June 8. The time is to be announced at a later date.