Prairie Mountain Health backs down from plan to share staff between 2 Brandon care homes

Prairie Mountain Health will not go forward with a plan to take home care staff from a Brandon retirement home and second them to work shifts in a personal care home dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak, CBC News has learned. 

The plan would have seen some Rotary Villas staff work the morning in that home and the afternoon at Fairview Personal Care Home, according to Jody Kehler, Executive Director of Rotary Villas. 

That plan sparked immediate concern and outrage from families who have loved ones in Rotary Villas.

“It just doesn’t make sense to me,” Michelle Goshaluk, whose parents live in the facility, told CBC News on Thursday morning from Ottawa.

“It’s a risk to not only the residents of both facilities, but the staff as well.” 

Goshaluk said her parents were stressed after hearing of the proposal by Prairie Mountain Health.

Kehler sent a letter to residents on Wednesday night informing them of the proposal. She said she felt she had to let them know about the possibility that staff could be working in two homes.

“We understand and emphasize that Fairview needs help right now,” Kehler said in a Thursday morning phone interview. “But we don’t want them to get help at the sake of the residents of Rotary Villas … we can’t have [workers] bouncing back and fourth between the two sites.”

“That’s where we feel the risk exists,” she said.  

An outbreak of COVID-19 at Fairview Personal Care Home in Brandon has grown to more than two dozen cases. (Riley Laychuk/CBC)

Prairie Mountain Health CEO, Penny Gilson, said in an email statement home care staff will be assigned to work in either Rotary Villas or Fairview PCH for the next two weeks, but not both.

“The plan that the Executive Director of Rotary Villas shared with families, had not been finalized or implemented and PMH continues explore all options that would provide Fairview Personal Care Home (PCH) with the additional staffing support needed, and at the same time, allow for minimal disruption in other services,” Gilson said.

Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s Chief Public Health Officer, said in his daily briefing on Thursday that the plan was under review.

“We’ve been receiving a lot of questions and concerns about that, from my understanding right now, that plan is currently under review and it hasn’t been implemented at this point,” he said.

In a subsequent letter to residents obtained by CBC News, Kehler said staff will continue to work in one site or the other, and not both. She thanked residents and families who advocated for the facility and their family members. 

Rotary Villas has had no known COVID-19 cases to date, Kehler said on Thursday.  The outbreak at Fairview Personal Care Home had grown to 34 cases as of Thursday.

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