THUNDER BAY — Officials at St. Joseph's Care Group say although the government-ordered assistance in managing Hogarth Riverview Manor has improved operations there, it remains unclear when the order will be lifted.
The Ministry of Health and Long Term Care told SJCG in the fall of 2017 that it needed help in the day-to-day running of the 544-bed nursing home, because of "ongoing non-compliance with resident care requirements, protecting residents from abuse, not following plans of care and not meeting reporting obligations" to the ministry.
St. Joseph's Care Group revealed in December 2017 that it had worked with the ministry to select Extendicare Assist to provide management services. It's the consulting branch of Extendicare, which operates more than 80 long-term care homes across Canada.
Nine months later, SJCG President Tracy Buckler says, the home's own management staff remain in place at Hogarth Riverview, with the Extendicare representatives providing "support and assistance."
Buckler told Tbnewswatch in an interview this week "It's been a very good partnership, even though it was fairly distressing for everyone at the time" the ministry issued the order.
She said the Hogarth Riverview management team has "learned a lot" from Extendicare Assist. "That's their business. That's their work. They've offered us very good processes and suggestions and policies and procedures and things that we would have absolutely been able to do but it would have taken us a longer time."
Ministry of Health and Long Term Care 'well aware' of progress
According to Buckler, the result has been "significant progress" in terms of how Hogarth Riverview is managed and operated.
She said the MOHLTC has followed the process throughout, checking on compliance with ministry regulations, and has noted the improvement, but she's unsure when the arrangement with Extendicare Assist will be terminated.
Last December, Buckler stated that she hoped the ministry's order would be rescinded within a year.
That's still her expectation, she said, but added that only the ministry can make that decision.
Buckler said the ministry is "well aware" that the involvement of Extendicare staff in daily operations has fallen significantly because the company is now confident in the local management team's ability to manage the facility.
"Their support has been lessened over time. They're coming on site less far less frequently than they were at the beginning."
SJCG still faces the challenge of finding a new, full-time administrator for Hogarth Riverview.
Extendicare Assist had its own administrator in place for a number of months, but SJCG's vice-president of seniors' health, Lina Johnson, is currently filling the role on an interim basis.
SJCG has been looking for a new administrator since the beginning of the year.
Buckler said a good administrator for a nursing home as large as Hogarth Riverview is hard to find.
"It's not for the faint of heart. We want to make sure we have the right person, the right fit for the job, with the right experience and the right qualifications and credentials."
The Ministry of Health and Long Term Care has not yet responded to an inquiry from Tbnewswatch about the status of the mandatory management order for Hogarth Riverview.