Alberta cuts nursing hours for residents in Michener Centre care home

The Michener Centre in Red Deer. Global News

RED DEER, Alta. – Nursing hours have been cut for residents at a central Alberta care home for the developmentally disabled.

Alberta Human Services says Michener Centre residents will have to use walk-in clinics, go to a hospital or call the telephone HealthLink service if they require medical care on those days.

The province is closing the institutional buildings at the care home, which is forcing about 120 residents to move into community group homes or seniors facilities.

A spokeswoman for Alberta Human Services says the role of nurses has changed at Michener Centre over the years to become less hands-on.

NDP health critic and leadership hopeful Dave Eggen says the change puts severely disabled residents at the care home in danger.

He also says decisions regarding Michener Centre are being made too quickly and without consultation.

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“Albertans who live at Michener have severe disabilities and particular health challenges. The move … means that they will no longer receive care from people who know them well,” Eggen said in a news release Monday.

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“The loss of medical services and recreational activities makes it seem that the PC government is doing everything it can to force these residents out as quickly as possible.”

Sandra Azocar, executive director of Friends of Medicare, suggested the a government can be judged by how it treats its most vulnerable citizens.

“This government continues to provide examples of how they fail over and over again to pass this most basic test,” she said in a release.

Lee Kvern, whose sister has lived at Michener Centre for many years, said reducing nursing care is an underhanded move by the provincial government to force residents out and could put them at risk.

“She’s autistic. She’s prone to behaviours. She can’t sit in emergency for hours or a walk-in clinic. She can’t physically do it,” Kvern said.

Roxanne Dube Coelho of Alberta Human Services said nurses have been providing more consultation to frontline staff rather than actual care. She also said there are fewer residents than there used to be.

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“It’s not that nursing care is no longer provided because nursing direct care was not how it worked. Anyone will still be able to access HealthLink and they would get pretty much the exact same advice,” Dube Coelho said.

Michener nurses have not provided overnight on-call nursing service since 2010, she said.

The Canadian Press, with files from The Red Deer Advocate

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