Yvonne Cody spends every afternoon with her husband Cliff. Cliff Cody moved to Dust Wing at St. Mary’s Villa in Humboldt in December 2010 when his Parkinson’s disease progressed to the point that Yvonne could no longer care for him.

Cliff and Yvonne Cody in his room at St. Mary’s Villa. Cliff needs to be moved to another wing of the facility so structural problems with the floor of Dust Wing can be addressed.

“We had to go through a move for his safety at that time,” says Yvonne. So, when news came that Cliff would have to move within St. Mary’s Villa again for safety issues, Yvonne accepted the news. “If it means he is safe, we can adjust.”

Ten enriched housing tenants relocated to make room for 32 needing long-term care

It was not the kind of news anyone wanted to hear, but when a preliminary engineering report in February indicated problems in the floor of Dust Wing at St. Mary’s Villa, things kicked into high gear to ensure the safety of residents like Cliff Cody and staff who work with them.

“This has been a very difficult year for the residents, families and employees of St. Mary’s Villa,” says Sandra Blevins, Saskatoon Health Region’s Vice-President of Integrated Health Services. “We know that resident and employee safety at St. Mary’s Villa is paramount, and the Region is taking every possible proactive precaution to prevent any future incident at this important community facility.”

The plan unfolded at the Villa to relocate the 32 residents of Dust Wing into other areas of St. Mary’s Villa. There were already nine vacancies in the Villa’s other wings, but more space was needed.

“As a result, we needed to open up space, and that meant ending our relationship with ten individuals who rent space in an enriched housing unit at St. Mary’s,” added Blevins. The tenants had a rental agreement with Saskatoon Health Region that required 30 days notice, but because the Region was unable to honour that notice period, a decision was made to pay the tenants first month rent in a new facility of their choice. Further compensation was made to recognize the hardship this move would cause. The Region also offered to pay a subsidy between the tenants current rent at St. Mary’s and the rental fees in their new space for the following 11 months.

Meanwhile, renovation work has begun in St. Mary’s wing. Painters have already begun prepping and painting walls; mobility aides will be installed in the rooms after painting is complete; a nurse call system is being recommissioned; a tub has been installed in the tub room; and windows have been replaced in 17 rooms. Modifications to the nursing station will also take place in the near future. The renovations are expected to be complete by the end of March. A decision about the structural changes at Dust Wing still needs to be made and will be under review now that the engineering firm has issued its final report to the Region. The report is available on the Health Region’s website: http://www.saskatoonhealthregion.ca/about_us/documents/SMV-Floor-Truss-Engineering-Report-2012.pdf.

It’s hoped all residents will be moved by the first week of April.

Yvonne Cody says it’s always difficult to uproot one’s life and move, but she says safety is more important than convenience and she’s happy her husband will continue to live in a safe environment.

Ombudsman to review

The provincial Minister of Health and the Saskatoon Regional Health Authority board chair have asked the Provincial Ombudsman’s office to review the relocation of tenants at St. Mary’s Villa in Humboldt.

The provincial ombudsman is responsible for making sure people are treated fairly, and will share his findings and recommendations publicly when they are complete. As an organization dedicated to continuously improving the way we work and the processes we use, Saskatoon Health Region welcomes the opportunity for a third party to review this matter. The Region has also begun reviewing the processes used in moving the tenants from St. Mary’s with staff and the tenants themselves.

The Region thanks all the staff at St. Mary’s Villa for being a constant, positive force in the lives of all tenants and residents.