By Pam Wright
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Chatham-Kent is throwing its support behind maintaining access to long-term care in the community of Tilbury.
At a recent meeting, council endorsed a motion from West Kent Coun. Melissa Harrigan directing staff to work with the Ministry of Long-Term Care, the owners of the Tilbury Manor Nursing Home and other other interested developers and stakeholders to explore options.
The motion comes on the heels of a decision by the province to allow Arch Corporation to add 75 beds to a new 160-bed facility to be built in Belle River in Lakeshore.
It means Arch Corp. will close the beds in Tilbury and move them to Essex County.
According to Harrigan, the move is a blow to rural health care.
“It’s seeming quite clear there’s been a trajectory or series of announcements around some shifts of bed allocations,” Harrigan told council.
“To be completely honest and frank, it doesn’t really bode well for the residents of the community of Tilbury who are losing a long-term care home in their community that is within walking distance of where their loved ones are living.”
Harrigan said her motion directs administration to be prepared for the loss of the home and find alternatives so older adults can continue to have access to good care.
Being ready for the eventual allocation of LTC beds by the province is part of the goal, Harrigan said.
April Rietdyk, general manager of community human services for Chatham-Kent, said the Tilbury beds won’t be closed for at least two more years, which gives the municipality the opportunity to explore other options.
Rietdyk said plans are in the works for meetings and consultation on the issue that will include economic development, ministry officials, and the manor’s owners who are “quite interested” in working on solutions.
According to Rietdyk, the Tilbury structure is aging and would need renovations to bring it up to modern long-term care safety codes.
South Kent Coun. Mary Clare Latimer, who has led a lobbying effort to keep the beds, said the loss in Tilbury leaves a “hole” in rural health care and is a “real hit” for the community.
Elsewhere in Chatham-Kent, the Ministry of Long-Term Care has approved 61 new spaces for St. Angela’s Meadow Care Centre, on top of 99 spaces previously approved for the facility.