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Aven Manor located on Franklin Avenue and 50th Street reduced its capacity by two beds and froze future admissions this week. The freeze will last until further funding can assist in providing additional resources for the facility. - Chris Puglia/NNSL photo

Aven Manor cuts back capacity

Funding troubles means longer waiting list for seniors

Chris Puglia
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Aug 02/02) - Seniors will be experiencing longer waiting periods to get into Aven Manor following an admissions freeze implemented July 31.

The freeze is being blamed on inadequate funding from GNWT Health and Social Services.

"We've been requesting from the Government of the Northwest Territories funding for the last year-and-a-half, the requests have fallen on deaf ears," said Paul Berthelet, vice-president of Yellowknife Association of Concerned Citizens for Seniors (YACCS). The society owns and operates the manor.

Berthelet says that a funding increase is expected in the 2003-2004 fiscal year, but adds the manor has an immediate need and because that need is not being met there will be serious repercussions.

The manor has cut its capacity from 29 beds to 27.

"There will be two people on the waiting list that won't be admitted," said Berthelet.

In total five seniors are waiting to get into the Aven Manor.

Berthelet says YACCS has identified a need for additional funding for 4.5 staff positions annually and until that request is met the freeze will continue.

"Our staff is being stretched beyond its limits and they have been for the last year-and-a-half, it's a drastic situation and we had to take drastic measures," says Berthelet. "We're thankful for our excellent staff...but they can only go the extra mile for so long."

Aside from funding, the manor's resources are also being stretched as the facility tries to care for patients with dementia related conditions.

"These sorts of illnesses need a lot more attention," said Berthelet.

That issue is being looked at by GNWT Health and Social Services which has allocated $30,000 towards a proposal for a new facility designed to deal primarily with dementia patients.

Forced to wait

Susan Franklin has been waiting seven months to admit her father into Aven Manor and she says she is disappointed at the news her family will have to wait longer.

"I was very disappointed. It was hopefully my father's turn on the waiting list," said Franklin.

"It's very stressful, we're all very upset."

For the past seven months Franklin's father has been forced to stay in hospital as he awaits a bed at the manor. News of the freeze may mean he would be facing a considerably longer wait.

Not only is that wait placing undue stress on Franklin's family it is also costing taxpayers.

"He doesn't really need to be hospitalized, but he needs care," said Franklin.

Since news of the freeze, aired Franklin says she and her sister have been lobbying in support of the Aven Manor.

They have contacted local politicians trying to advocate more funding for the facility.

"My mother is in Aven Manor and I am there on a daily basis. They work very hard and they are very dedicated, says Franklin.

"I know what it means to receive quality care. My mother receives quality care and I want the same for my dad."

No immediate funding available

Al Woods, CEO of the Yellowknife Health and Services Authority says Health Minister Michael Miltenberger and the department of health and social services are aware of the situation at Aven Manor.

But when asked if any additional funding will be made available his reply was "Not at this point.

"Our board of trustees wants to take a look at it and see what we can do to help," said Woods.

Currently long-term and short-term solutions are being looked at by the board to help with future resources. However, Woods said he could not comment on what those solutions are at this point.

The cost for funding an additional 4.5 staff members at the manor is approximately $85,000 per position, or nearly $390,000.

Funding announced

On July 31, Miltenberger announced that $1.5 million for the care of seniors with dementia will be included in next year's budget.

The funding will be distributed to communities through-out the NWT.

It is expected approximately $500,000 of the funding will be allocated to the Aven Manor.