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Dozens of patients relocated after ‘motel medicine’ agency removed from AHS list

The housing agency responsible for housing a partially paralyzed man in a Leduc motel will no longer receive clients from Alberta Health Services.

On Friday, Premier Danielle Smith said dozens of clients from Contentment Social Services were being relocated from the Park Inn by Radisson near the airport where they had been living for more than a week.

Contentment Social Services is an organization providing housing and other support to low-income people, including patients being discharged from the hospital.

Until recently, the agency was on a list of providers Alberta Health Services staff gave to medical patients needing housing after being discharged from the hospital.

On Tuesday, the family of 62-year-old stroke survivor Blair Canniff alerted the media after the partially paralyzed man was placed at the motel, despite Contentment Social Services not being able to properly care for his needs.

“The ramp at the front door was too steep for people in wheelchairs to use by themselves,” said Canniff’s step-daughter Jeela Manniapik. “And the bathrooms were too small to be able to transfer someone on and off a toilet.”

Blair Canniff was taken to a motel in Leduc instead of a long-term care facility after he was released from the Royal Alexandra Hospital. (Supplied)The agency’s housing director Nadia Yousouf said 40 residents, including Canniff who has since returned to hospital, were placed in the motel while other housing units were being treated for pests.

She said the agency has been helping clients with non-medical housing for years, and she believes the province is being unfair by removing them from the list.

People just heard one side of the story. Nobody has ever come to work with us when we were at [our former building] to actually see what is it that we do and how we help our clients,” Yousouf said.

Smith said the agency was providing “substandard care” by feeding clients fast food and failing to pay for the temporary accommodations for the 39 clients still at the motel.

To prevent them from being evicted Thursday, Smith said the province stepped in and paid the $25,000 owed to the motel by Contentment Social Services.

Staff from the ministry of seniors, community and social services were on site Friday to help relocate patients. No information has been given on where they will go.

Contentment Social Services leadership has not responded to multiple requests for comment.

‘Motel medicine’

The UCP ministers of health and social services and seniors have denied having any former knowledge of Contentment Social Services.

“There is an implication that because they’re on a list that we have actually approved them,” Health Minister Adriana LaGrange said Thursday. “I was very clear in all of my communications over the last couple of days that we have not accredited that agency.”

Smith reiterated Friday that the province remains unsure of how the agency ended up on the list of providers being given to patients by AHS.

“We don’t give them money. They’re not a contractor of ours, and so there’s still some work we need to do to understand why they were recommended in the first place,” Smith said.

The Alberta NDP accused the UCP multiple times of lacking accountability regarding the list and what they call “motel medicine.”

“When asked if anyone is checking to see if the places patients are being discharged to are acceptable, (LaGrange) didn’t know,” said NDP deputy leader Christina Gray on Friday. “When asked who made the list of agencies that included this particular social services provider, she didn’t know.”

On Thursday, the NDP wrote to the Health Quality Council of Alberta to ask for an investigation into what they call a lack of oversight into where AHS patients are discharged and how they are cared for.

Smith said the province will be reviewing hospital discharge policies and how non-medical service providers are accredited.

“We actually are concerned there might be other operators like this,” Smith said.

Smith said reports of substandard care can be reported to the family violence information line at 310-1818.

With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Jeremy Thompson, Craig Ellingson and Diego Romero

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