Deaths of former Michener Centre residents prompt calls for investigation

There are calls for an investigation into how residents of the Michener Centre in Red Deer have been transitioned out of the facility. The Friends of the Michener Centre claim five of the 41 people forced from their homes have died.

5 out of 41 people died after being transitioned out of the soon-to-be-closed centre, claims advocacy group

The provincial government decided to shut down the Michener Centre in Red Deer for people with developmental disabilities in March 2013. The plan is to transfer all residents into community homes by this December. (CBC)

There are calls for an investigation into how residents of the Michener Centre have been transitioned out of the Red Deer facility.

The Friends of the Michener Centre claim five of the 41 people forced from their homes have died in the last four months.

It was announced in March 2013 that the province would be closing the centre and transitioning residents to other community facilities around the province.

"I can certainly say if those people were still at Michener they'd be alive," said Lee Kvern with Friends of the Michener Centre​.

"I know they would be."

Michener resident Jody Kvern walks with her sister and legal guardian Lee Kvern. She has been a resident at the centre for 42 years. (CBC)

She says she is fearful for the future of the 80 residents who still live at the Michener Centre, which plans to close this December.

Kvern said out of the 41 that have left, five of those residents died shortly after arriving at long-term care facilities in Calgary, Lacombe, Grande Prairie and Yellowknife. 

The province told family members that the transition would be carefully monitored and there would only be one move. But Kvern says there have also been several horror stories of bad moves.

"We are now hearing that people at Michener are being shuffled around once, twice — you know like old furniture, and they can't deal with it," she said.

"They need that consistency in their environment. They are so highly sensitive and fragile."

Her sister, Jody, has been at the centre for 42 years.

As her legal guardian, she says she will never consent to her sister's release.

"The optics of forcibly removing her with me duct-taped to her are probably not good for the government, [but] if that's what it takes," said Kvern. "If they're going to remove my sister without my consent I'll be there."

Friends of the Michener Centre wants an investigation into how the residents have been transitioned out of the facility, and it wants all plans to move out the remaining residents put on hold.

Alberta's New Democratic Party is holding a news conference to discuss the deaths on Thursday morning.

Family members of Michener residents say they are concerned about how they are being transitioned from the Red Deer centre. (CBC)


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