‘Brutal’ heat at Strasbourg, Sask., senior care home has nurse pleading for help

fan in seniors centre
File photo of seniors cooling off near a fan at a senior centre. AP Photo / Steve Ruark

A nurse at a Strasbourg, Sask., long-term care home is pleading with the provincial government to fix the sweltering temperatures at the Last Mountain Pioneer Home that she says has lingered for years.

In an email to the premier and Ministry of Health, the nurse says she has gone through OH&S and “every other road you can imagine” to get the facility’s air conditioning fixed.

“I am going to be blunt, enough is enough,” she said. “Our staff and residents cannot continue to be subject to this brutality.”

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The letter cites health concerns for seniors including dehydration, skin issues like rashes and mental health problems triggered by the heat.

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Concerns were also raised over the seniors who can no longer speak but are experiencing the same conditions.

The facility has portable air conditioning units and fans blowing but they “are not nearly sufficient enough”, says the nurse.

The nurse — whose name was redacted from the email made public by the Saskatchewan NDP — says the sweltering heat has persisted for years.

“For many years the summer months have been quite brutal for lack of better terms,” the nurse wrote.

On Friday, the Minister Responsible for Rural and Remote Health, Warren Kaeding, brushed off the problem.

“We’ve even heard that our residents are concerned about the temperature being too cold for the facility, so we know it’s a very fine line to providing the very best temperature and air control in a facility like that,” Kaeding said.

“Our biggest concern is to make sure that if residents are concerned about temperatures they need to discuss (that) with the facility manager.”

The facility manager of the Last Mountain Pioneer home could not be reached.

However, according to a CEO tour report from the Saskatchewan Health Authority, air conditioning has been an issue at the facility since 2013, when improvements to the air conditioning infrastructure were requested.

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The problem was not addressed in further tour reports, which seniors critic Danielle Chartier says is an example of how “these non-independent reports are not telling us the whole truth.

“The reality is those tour reports don’t reflect what is going on in our long-term care homes,” Chartier said during Friday’s Question Period.

“You just need to visit and talk to staff to see what’s written in those reports does not indicate what’s really going on, or is just a small fraction of the picture.”

The issue has renewed the NDP’s call for an independent investigation into Saskatchewan long-term care homes by the provincial government.

The Last Mountain Pioneer Home is over 50-years-old. The facility will receive upgrades this year, but Kaeding says infrastructure to manage temperature isn’t on the list.

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