December 15th, 2017

Year in Review: Highs and lows for city’s seniors in 2016

By Gillian Slade on December 28, 2016.

gslade@medicinehatnews.com  @MHNGillianSlade

This year for seniors in Medicine Hat there is light at the end of the tunnel for a seniors centre but there are still not enough placements in the community for those who can no longer live independently.

Seniors Centre

Three years of debate and indecision came to an end this year with council approving, on Aug. 3, a plan and budget of $11.6 million to renovate and expand the existing Veiner Centre. It will bear no resemblance to the old facility.

Renovations to the main floor will cover 1,418 square metres, and the building will be expanded on both the north and south end. The western half of the building will undergo a major renovation, including removal and replacement of the slab-on-grade floor.

The project could go to tender in early 2017, construction commencing in the spring, and perhaps be complete by the fall of 2018.

Placement wait times

Seniors are still waiting in Medicine Hat Regional Hospital for a vacancy in the community. In Oct., 35 seniors were in acute care beds waiting for placement, according to Alberta Health Services (AHS). On average they waited 37 days.

In July 2015, Medicine Hat was awaiting the opening of Park Place Meadow Ridge Seniors Village with about 80 news beds subsidized by AHS to address the 67 seniors waiting in hospital for placement at the time.

We are now awaiting the opening of Masterpiece Southland Meadows in fall 2017, which will provide another 100 funded beds, said Sean Chilton, AHS chief zone officer for the south zone.

Long-term care project

Masterpiece Southland Meadows, 4401 Southlands Dr., has been designed to enjoy views of the lake, trails and the morning sun. The project is on track to be complete for Sept. 2017. Seven months after a sod-turning ceremony, construction was at the halfway point.

The first phase of the project includes the centre and north wing totalling 151,000 square feet and 120 units. One hundred units will be subsidized by AHS for long-term care and dementia residents. There will be another 40 independent living spaces and a further 60 to be determined.

This project received a grant of $6.25 million from the provincial government under the [Affordable Supportive Living Initiative (ASLI) program.

The budget for the entire project is $40 million. ASLI grants cover up to 50 per cent of capital costs for developing new spaces, with the remainder coming from the applicants. ASLI grant recipients are required to maintain the units for 30 years at government-established rates.

Medication affordability

A study of the implications for seniors who can’t afford medication is underway.

Whether seniors unable to afford prescription medication is resulting in more heart attacks and strokes is the subject of a study by the University of Calgary. The three-year study of low-income seniors struggling to pay insurance co-payments for prescriptions is to determine whether free preventative medications and/or personalized education will result in fewer heart attacks, strokes and other complications, said Dr. Braden Manns, a member of the University’s Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta and O’Brien Institute for Public Health.

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