With less than two months before 39 long-term beds close at Pine Ridge seniors’ lodge when the new Points West living facility opens, the employee union addressed concerns with Town of Stettler council.
“Public beds should remain public,” said Dave Malka, of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) who spoke to council last Tuesday.
“Workers are Pine Ridge are very concerned for their jobs.
“Closing beds means the loss about 40 positions.
“We don’t know how much cuts will actually be made.”
With about 20 concerned employees and citizens in the audience, council was told by the delegation that Alberta Health Services has not informed the union or staff about the future of the local positions.
Open to hear local concerns, council informed the delegation that the town can do little to address the issues.
“We don’t have much say about the impact,” said acting mayor Peter Simons, who chaired the meeting for the absent Mayor Dick Richards.
Another councillor expressed it another way.
“You’re preaching to the choir — church is over,” Coun. Al Campbell said.
“You should have been here months ago, not just weeks before the new facility opens. I don’t think this council can do anything.”
Recognizing that statement, the delegation said it wanted to inform council about many concerns.
“We just want to make people aware of this,” Malka said.
“Are we going to be successful (with making changes to plans) at this point? “Probably not. Are we late to come here — absolutely.”
Malka said he also feared that this is the beginning of moving health services out of Stettler Hospital and Care Centre, councillors contended that local hospital serves as regional hub and services would be enhanced over the next several years.
He also feels seniors will not be served adequately at a private facility.
“It’s said to make a profit on our seniors,” Malka said.
“The government’s shell game with Alberta’s elderly continues, and rural Alberta is suffering from the brunt of it.”
Malka also noted that Points West is a designated assisted living facility, not long-term care.
“Those residents who have higher care needs than can be met at Points West will either have to go into acute-care hospital beds, putting more pressure on they system, or will be moved 100 kilometres away into the first available bed.
“To ask these seniors to leave their community now is heartless,” Malka said.
Although he suggested that these seniors facilities be offered with a variety of operations of private and public.
For anyone wishing to express concerns, Malka urged people to write to provincial government officials.