By Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative
St. Clair College and a local long-term care facility will be upgrading their facilities thanks to funding from the provincial government.
On Friday, Chatham-Kent- Leamington MPP Rick Nicholls had a busy afternoon in the municipality, announcing the separate funding projects.
Meadow Park long-term care facility will be receiving 61 new beds as they set to move to a new location.
“I guess it’s safe to say our Christmas came early this year,” said Anne-Marie Rumble, administrator of Meadow Park Nursing Home, adding that she cried when she first heard the announcement.
The nursing home located on 110 Sandys St. has been operating for 41 years. It will soon be moving by St. Angela’s Meadow Retirement Lodge, also owned by Jarlette Health Services, on Merici Way, Chatham.
The average waiting list at the nursing home is 50-60 residents. Rumble doesn’t expect the new beds to clear up the list as the senior population is expected to increase over the next several years.
The announcement is part of a larger provincial investment of $1.75 billion to create 30,000 beds over the course of 10 years. Nicholls could not yet divulge if another long-term care facility in Chatham-Kent will get new beds in the coming years.
He said all the extra beds at Meadow Park Nursing Home will undoubtedly add extra pressure on staffing, and the government is currently working on a plan for recruitment and retention of personal support workers. Approximately 110 staff members are needed in the current facility, which has 99 beds. The additions will bring the new nursing home a total of 160 spaces.
“This was part of our commitment to modernizing the long-term care sector,” Nicholls said.
St. Clair College will be receiving $2.5 million.
“Many of (our educational facilities) are in dire need of retrofits, or in some cases even new additions. The government has recognized that and as a result of that, we are providing funding to keep our students at top-quality colleges and universities,” said Nicholls who is also an alumni of the college.
It is still undecided if the Chatham or Windsor campus, or both, will receive the facility upgrades.
An additional $763,500 was provided to buy new instructional equipment.
Nicholls said the funds are also important for the overall community – even though most students are not using the buildings during the pandemic – because attracting prospective students means long term growth in the local economy.
Around 1,500 students are enrolled at the Chatham campus.
“We very much appreciate the ministry’s recognition that we need high-quality facilities to deliver high-quality education,” said Patti France, president of St. Clair College in a statement. “Many of our primary buildings are over 50 years old.”