Long-term care dropped from Merritt home due to staffing issues, IH intervention | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Long-term care dropped from Merritt home due to staffing issues, IH intervention

The Florentine
Image Credit: Google Maps
May 06, 2021 - 6:00 PM

A Merritt care home that was placed under supervision of the Interior Health Authority because of “ongoing challenges” is giving up its licence for long-term care.

The Florentine, a private care home located on Belshaw Street, announced in a statement on Facebook May 4 it has decided to give up its complex care licence that it had for the last 13 years.

The care home has been managed by the health authority since March due to “challenges with its site leadership, care planning, staff education and training, and reporting,” according to Interior Health’s press release.

READ MORE: Administrator appointed to Merritt care home to 'stabilize' operations

Florentine owner Frank Rizzardo said the decision to discontinue long-term care was made because of the challenges in the last two years to find and retain adequate staff as well as the health authority's assigned administrator and associated costs.

The complex has 20 long-term care suites and 51 assisted living suites, he said.

He said problems with finding staff first arose when the Greyhound service stopped running roughly two years ago, as staff would take the bus up from the Lower Mainland to work.

Nearly all of the residents and roughly 70% of staff have been vaccinated for COVID-19, but an outbreak was announced at the residence in February, affecting two residents, Rizzardo said.

During that time, two of four licensed practical nurses were unable to work for 14 days due to the outbreak which caused “considerable consternation to fill shifts,” he said.

Following the outbreak, Interior Health’s Matt Renfrew was assigned as a full-time administrator at the facility.

READ MORE: Outbreak declared over at Merritt care home

Rizzardo said the way IH is running the operation now, they have mandated that no one on the second floor can respond to anything on other floors and nurses can’t interact.

While he said the care home is at fault for some infractions, the residents are not put in harm's way and the situations of non-compliance are a matter of interpretation, he said.

“The guidelines don’t make sense and I’m tired of fighting, I can’t do this anymore,” he said.

Rizzardo said he has sent information to the health authority to move the long-term care residents across B.C. and IH’s administrator and social worker is overseeing the process. There are no other long-term care facilities in Merritt that can currently take them, he said.

The 20 long-term suites at the facility will be turned into assisted living suites, he said.

He has offered for Interior Health to purchase the building but has not heard a response, he said.

The health authority could not be immediately reached for comment.

- This story was corrected May 8, at 3:30 p.m. to clarify the headline. The Florentine is not the only care home in Merritt.

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