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LETTER: Leave residents in P.E.I.'s Atlantic Baptist Nursing Home

The P.E.I. Atlantic Baptist Nursing Home in Charlottetown has put a halt on admitting new residents and says it may be forced to close 41 beds if the province doesn’t increase its funding.
The P.E.I. Atlantic Baptist Nursing Home in Charlottetown has put a halt on admitting new residents and says it may be forced to close 41 beds if the province doesn’t increase its funding.

The P.E.I. Government’s standoff with the Atlantic Baptist Home is both weird and upsetting.

This is not just about 41 “beds” closing. It is about people: 41 senior Islanders are being needlessly and ruthlessly uprooted.

After the difficulty of going to a nursing home in the first place now they are being shunted around once again. I am thinking most of all about the 31 shunted residents who are persons with dementia. These are the most vulnerable men and women in any institution. Moving them is beyond cruel and unusual.

To decision-makers I say: What are you thinking?

To the surprise of many distressed Islanders on a waiting list for a place in a nursing home, it now seems that there really are excess nursing home accommodations, enough for 41 people.

The minister of Health and Wellness appears eager to invest resources in opening up these extra 41 accommodations, rather than investing what is needed to keep Atlantic Baptist up and running.

The Atlantic Baptist Home is the only not-for-profit nursing care facility in P.E.I. We wonder if this factors into the government’s unwillingness to grant the funding needed.

Governments generally do not get high marks for their ability to understand or to work with not-for-profits. The policymakers seem to be most comfortable with the organizations and structures which mirror their own corporate model. They often question the fiscal responsibility of not-for-profits, ignoring that this sector makes every dollar stretch to its limit.

The Atlantic Baptist Home opened up its books to the government. The Home’s administration showed that demands are growing at the same time as operational costs are increasing.

I can’t help but think of the number of large grants over the years that went into bailing out well-heeled, for-profit businesses.

In some of the coverage of the stalemate, someone suggested that the Atlantic Baptist overstepped its financial capacity when it added more dementia care and other spaces. The administration makes it clear that expanding the services actually made the facility more viable.

I have personal experience with the home having visited its earliest dementia care division, which accommodated 14 residents. In over 400 visits there, any hour of the day or night, as a volunteer supplementary caregiver, I have witnessed the extraordinary capacity of Atlantic Baptist Home to design appropriate care of persons with dementia. I rejoiced when I saw them expanding their dementia care capacity.

Another level of displacement of persons in the current impasse is the possible loss of staff. From my experience with the Atlantic Baptist Home, I have been impressed by the professional abilities of the staff, but especially with their empathy.

It is unthinkable that any of them would have to be laid off. Replacing them in the future will be difficult.

With other people in the community, I am asking the P.E.I. government to come back to the table. It may take a smidgen of humility, but it will be worth it in the long run.

The Atlantic Baptist Home deserves to have the financial capacity to continue providing its wonderful care to the Island community. The staff deserves to have job security. The 41 residents deserve to be able to stay in a stable situation.

 

Marie Burge

Mermaid, P.E.I.

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