Manitoba

Health authority closing transitional beds at Winnipeg retirement centre, opening spaces elsewhere

The loss of 65 transitional beds at a private retirement home later this year won't have a negative impact on patient care, according to the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.

Health authority says city can handle net loss of beds because of personal care vacancies

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority will close 65 transitional care beds at a facility on Scotia Street, since the patients can now be taken care of within the public health care system. (Marianne Klowak/CBC)

The loss of 65 transitional beds at a private retirement home later this year won't have a negative impact on patient care, according to the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.

A health official says existing beds at Misericordia Health Centre will be converted to transitional care to make up for the planned reductions at River Ridge II, but the city doesn't need to add any more beds because of the number of personal care home beds that are empty.

"What we did not anticipate when we first planned this was the number of personal care home beds vacant within our system," said Gina Trinidad, chief health operations officer at the WRHA.

She said the city averages around 160 empty PCH beds at any time. 

The health authority was criticized in 2017 when it moved patients to a privately run facility on Scotia Street, stoking fears of the eventual privatization of health care. It said the shift would be temporary until the public health-care system, in flux because of an organizational revamp, could absorb patients once again. 

Gina Trinidad, chief health operations officer at the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, says it doesn't need to build more beds for transitional care because of a surplus of vacant personal care home beds. (Lyza Sale/CBC)

All Seniors Care, based in Toronto, won the $9.2-million, two-year deal to develop the transitional units, which are intended for patients who can leave hospital care but aren't ready to move to a long-term facility or return home. People are expected to stay in the beds for 90 days.

The WRHA's current plan is to convert the existing 110 interim care beds at Misericordia to transitional care once the contract with All Seniors Care ends in September, Trinidad said.

As a result, patients who take up interim care beds, which provides a place to stay as individuals wait for a personal care home, will be relocated to vacant PCH beds instead. 

"The partnership with All Seniors Care at River Ridge has been excellent in really strengthening the model, but now we need to look at opportunities within our own sector and within our own personal care home bed base," Trinidad said.

PCH vacancies 'a positive:' Trinidad

She said it's good that Winnipeg has empty PCH beds.

"It's a positive thing for people because we know that we're keeping individuals in the community longer," she said. "And from the hospital, we're also transitioning them to the most appropriate environment."

She says the vacancies won't last as Manitoba's population continues to age. There are 5,665 PCH beds across the WRHA.

Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont is puzzled by the shifting of beds, especially after the province boasted about signing the $9.2-million contract in 2017.

"It's one of these things you just can't explain — it's a facility that was open by the government … 65 beds, and now they're closing it again," he said.

Dignitaries attend the 2017 announcement marking the opening of transitional care beds at a privately run facility in Winnipeg. From left, then-health minister Kelvin Goertzen, WRHA chief health operations officer Gina Trinidad, All Seniors Care senior vice-president Joshua Kuhl and Manitoba Association of Senior Centres president Tom Farrell. (CBC)

"The hard thing about this is that when they talk about beds here and interim beds there, it just seems like a giant shell game, so it's hard to ever pin down exactly what's going on." 

He questioned if the province has a vision.

"If there was a picture of where people were going to be at the end of this, then people might be able to buy into it," Lamont said. "But there's none of that."

Health Minister Cameron Friesen said, in a statement, the placement of beds at River Ridge II was always meant to be temporary while the health system transformation took hold.

He said the government remains set on building 1,200 new personal care home beds by 2025, with construction on projects in Steinbach and Carman beginning later this year. 

About the Author

Ian Froese

Reporter

Ian Froese reports from the Manitoba Legislature for CBC Manitoba. He previously wrote for the Brandon Sun and the Carillon in Steinbach. Story idea? Email ian.froese@cbc.ca.

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