By: Mike Anderson
ATK Care Group, the owner of River Glen Haven Nursing Home in Sutton, has received provincial funding to build a new three-storey LTC home on Dalton Rd.
According to Jordan Kannampuzha, ATK Care’s Chief Operations Officer, the funding, which is a construction funding subsidy, will allow the for-profit LTC operator to replace its current 119-bed home with a new facility that will add 25 beds for a total of 144 beds.
“I’m tremendously excited. This has been a project we’ve been trying to achieve for close to seven years,” said Mr. Kannampuzha.
“Being able to move to a new facility and increasing our bed capacity will allow people in our community to age in place as they get older. People want to be able to age in a community that they’ve known all their lives, that they’ve grown up in, and that is close to their families.”
Mr. Kannampuzha said that ATK Care still needs to get final approval from the Ministry of Long-Term Care (MLTC), but that process is underway.
“Getting this approval is still just a first step, but it’s a huge step forward right now,” he said.
“There will be ongoing talks with the Ministry because no LTC home can be built without getting approval on the layout or the development of the building.”
“But the Ministry will want to get these buildings up and developed as soon as possible.”
ATK Care is also waiting for final approvals from the Town of Georgina to proceed with construction.
And the Town has to provide an additional sewage allocation to allow the new facility, which was approved for 128 beds, to add another 16 beds to reach the 144 total.
“We’re very hopeful that we will eventually get that allocation from the Town. So, we can have that additional 16 beds,” said Mr. Kannampuzha.
While Mr. Kannampuzha can’t provide a start date, he is confident that shovels will be in the ground before ATK Care’s license is up for renewal with the Ministry in 2025.
The funding was announced on March 18 by MPP Caroline Mulroney and is part of the province’s plan to spend $933 million to create more beds in LTC and upgrade facilities.
Southlake Regional Health Centre will also receive funding to build 320 new spaces in Newmarket, bringing 464 new and upgraded spaces to York-Simcoe residents.
“We’re increasing and upgrading long-term care spaces in our community to keep up with the growing demand in York Region, which is expected to rise over the next decade,” said Caroline Mulroney, MPP for York-Simcoe, in a media release.
“Our government is taking action to help ensure we have safe, modern spaces ready for our ageing population.”
River Glen Haven’s new LTC home is one of 80 projects approved by the Ford government that will help create 7,510 new beds in LTC, upgrade 4,197 existing spaces, and reduce waitlists across the province.
One of the funding’s key objectives is to eliminate three-and four-bed ward rooms, which contributed to the rapid spread of the virus during LTCH outbreaks.
“These new and upgraded spaces, built to modern design standards, will help prevent and contain the transmission of infectious diseases and ensure residents have access to the care they need in a safe and secure environment,” said Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care in the release.
Mr. Kannampuzha confirmed that the new LTC home won’t include any three- and four-bed ward rooms.
“There’s ample evidence that the three and four-bedroom ward rooms do not help mitigate the spread, just because of the number of individuals in these rooms,” he said.
“The new facility with have significantly more space, and with only two residents in rooms, should greatly improve not just infection prevention and control (IPAC), but our ability to fight off or mitigate any future pandemics.”
Mr. Kannampuzha is hopeful that the new funding signals the province is ready to tackle the significant issues facing long-term care, including a severe staffing shortage.
“I’d like to see more staffing initiatives to promote PSWs, RNs and RPNs to work in long-term care,” he said.
“It’s a systemic issue that is affecting all of Ontario’s LTC homes.”
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