Nursing home overcrowding an election issue in Victoria County
Candidates call for Highland Manor to be expanded or replaced
Overcrowding at a nursing home in Neils Harbour, N.S., has emerged as a municipal election issue in Victoria County's District 7.
Highland Manor is owned by the Municipality of Victoria County and funded through the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness.
"We have an aging population, and our only nursing home here north of Smokey, the Highland Manor, needs major upgrades," District 7 candidate Jackie Organ said Wednesday during a candidates roundtable on CBC Cape Breton's Information Morning.
"It's been a recurring issue that's been brought to me throughout this whole campaign," agreed candidate Kim Stockley.
The Highland Manor opened in 1986. Most of its 19 residents live two to a room, and four to a bathroom.
"With the COVID-19 going on right now that seems to be way out of line," said candidate Lawrence Seymour, noting that the bathroom situation is the biggest concern he's hearing from people.
Jeffery Gwynn, the fourth candidate running for District 7, did not take part in the roundtable.
'It's always been an issue'
Deputy Warden Larry Dauphinee, who is acclaimed in District 6, sits on the manor's board of directors.
"I guess it's always been an issue," he said. "But with COVID, yeah, it's brought it to the forefront. It's more critical now than ever."
Due to pandemic measures, the facility's staff room has been repurposed as a palliative care and isolation room, and the dining room, which normally seats 12, can now accommodate just eight people per sitting.
But even before the pandemic there were crowding issues, said Dauphinee.
"At one time we had to build a barn outside for storage for materials because storage has just been a nightmare since day one. So there's a lot of space issues with the whole building," he said.
In late August, council agreed to send a letter to Health and Wellness requesting an assessment of the facility. The hope is that the department will agree that the building needs to be replaced.
"It definitely will be one of our top priorities in the upcoming next four years of council," said Dauphinee. "So I'm glad to hear that the candidates are talking about it."
Information Morning Cape Breton