District Council approves emergency loan for Fairvern heating system

Fairvern Nursing Home Board Bill Wright was before District Council at its August 9 meeting, asking the upper-tier municipality to provide interim funding to the non-profit home to fix its system heater to provide heat to residents and staff before colder weather hits.

The cost to repair and replace the boiler parts is about $ 600,000, plus the cost of removing the old equipment, Wright said. “The ministry does not provide us, as a non-profit organization, with the funds to build capital reserves for items as expensive as this and those that may arise over the next two years as the new Fairvern is under development. ”

He said the hospital generously provided the building and ownership of the house, but said the lease says maintenance costs are on the house. He said the hospital was working with Fairvern to see if there might be any funding the house can access.

Wright also noted that a request will be made to the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care for support “sometimes funds are set aside for emergencies like this.”

Wright said timing is important in order to secure the equipment and set it up in time for the colder weather, and for delays associated with COVID.

Huntsville councilor Tim Withey said he was in favor of providing the funding and said he was hopeful that more funding would come in order to eliminate the costs to the district, “but the time is certainly over. a factor “.

Bracebridge councilor Rick Maloney asked if Fairvern had any funds on reserve that he could contribute and asked if the Department of Health had already provided comments.

Wright said the board had just been made aware of the boiler-related issues last week and had not had a chance to discuss the issue with the ministry, but it did. would do immediately. He said Tarek Moharram, the seconded district administrator for Fairvern, had verified all of Fairvern’s accounts “and we will contribute whatever we can where possible”.

He said the house doesn’t have specific capital reserves for “big maintenance companies like this, so we’re looking at other accounts where we need to raise the funds we can, and these will be paid “.

Muskoka Lakes Councilor Frank Jaglowitz asked why the request was made to Council on such short notice.

Wright explained that the home has had a number of executive directors and an interim director over the past two years, “and luckily we now have someone from the district who recently hired someone with the technical ability to. examine and examine these systems. and so these issues were only very recently revealed to the board, otherwise I’m not an advocate for emergency and urgency requests. We like that we can handle these things on our own, and if we could, I wouldn’t be here to ask today, ”said Wright, whose father resides in Fairvern.

Maloney asked how the organization would have handled the situation if the district or other opportunities had not been available.

Wright, who said he had only been a member of the board for a year, said: “What I sort of believe to be the story is that there just hasn’t been a funds available for such programs, period. We are getting enough money from the ministry to run the house and so with the aging of the building that’s part of the reason why the ministry said our permit would no longer be because it is where it turns out, will no longer be made redundant by 2025. He added that the ministry has acknowledged that this is an old house and not in a physically viable condition in the long term. Wright noted that since joining the board, he can honestly say that every penny received from the ministry has gone to the care of residents.

Wright also said that with the district taking over the management of the council in the future, preventative maintenance initiatives will be developed, rather than relying on the history of the house to meet the demand. meeting request.

He also noted that last year due to COVID, the home had to reduce the number of residents it welcomed from 72 to 56, as there could only be two residents per room instead of the usual four. He said this had an additional financial impact, as residents supplemented the income from the house, which also made it impossible to set aside money for maintenance.

Withey, who has served on the Fairvern board of directors in the past, said that when there were maintenance issues “it was literally robbing Peter to pay Paul, moving money, begging everywhere and a lot of money. duct tape… the building is really tired and there’s a lot going on there that you know needs more planning. There have been issues, as Mr. Wright explained, with changes in executive directors and some capacity there, so it’s not a good story … ground and moving, good for everyone, and most importantly for the residents because, you know, at the end of the day it’s about them and what they’re forced to live in… it’s never been easy over the years for this council.

Councilor Steve Clement asked if something like the boiler is not the responsibility of the hospital.

Wright noted that the hospital rented the property in Fairvern for only a dollar a year and did not generate any income from the house. “This property is worth a lot of money and the hospital never made us force us to leave,” Wright said, adding “they are not shying away from anything, I can assure you that”.

Bracebridge councilor Don Smith, who called the problem the organization is facing a very serious situation with substantial costs, asked Wright who Fairvern would have turned to had the district not been an option. Wright explained that the house should have applied for an emergency loan from a financial institution at any cost, “but the challenge would always be that the bank would seek some security for that loan and that is another option. that can be explored but then… the bank would look for some kind of financial backer to support this loan. That would be the only type of immediate short term bridge and, again, my understanding of the situation as it gave me. been described is that to start the heating season, the equipment must be ordered now.

Jaglowitz asked why the house was not in a better financial position, especially if it did not pay rent. Wright explained that the fact that Fairvern does not pay to rent the building is reflected in the funding it receives from the province. “We only receive funds to break even at the end of each year as a non-profit organization. “

Huntsville Mayor Karin Terziano said Fairvern, unlike The Pines in Bracebridge, is a non-profit nursing home. “As Mr. Wright said, they don’t have the funds to put money aside for capital because their funding is strictly made up of payments to residents and government grants to look after residents. I think it’s a little unfair to point the finger at the board for finding itself in that position when it was never… the type of house to save for capital spending. I think that’s one of the reasons the province prefers district-managed homes over non-profit homes, ”she said, adding that the new 160-bed home that will be built is a big deal. more profitable house to manage.

She told her fellow councilors the idea was to provide the house with bridge funding, with the ultimate goal being to go after the province for those funds.

District President John Klinck said the funding model the province has devised for not-for-profit nursing homes leaves a lot to be desired.

Bracebidge advisor Allen Edwards said the heating season begins on September 15 and said the timing is critical and he will support bridge funding.

Maloney said he was flabbergasted the province was taking such a funding approach when it comes to caring for and funding vulnerable seniors. “I have seen better financial models and funding models with local theater companies and we are dealing with older people here,” he said, adding that if there was ever a model to be corrected, “This model of long-term care must absolutely be addressed…”

Lake of Bays Mayor Terry Glover, who sits on the district health committee, said the situation was ludicrous with the community constantly begging for health care dollars for everything.

Jaglowitz insisted that the district make it clear that the funds are only a loan and that the province is responsible for repaying it.

Ultimately, the district approved a loan to Fairvern, up to $ 900,000, and instructed staff to work with the house to recover funds from the province so as not to impact taxpayers from Muskoka.

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