BRUCE COUNTY – Jill Knowlton made her final report to Bruce County council’s homes committee last week.
Knowlton and the company she works for, Primacare Living Solutions, were brought in after Brucelea Haven was on the verge of being taken over by the province the summer of 2019. Knowlton has been managing Gateway Haven and Brucelea Haven for Primacare ever since.
Much has been accomplished. Both county long-term care homes are in full compliance with government requirements, have harmonized policies and procedures, and have new administrators in place. Both homes have weathered COVID-19 well; outbreaks were brought under control efficiently and quickly.
Knowlton said making her last report was “a bittersweet moment.” However, she stressed it meant success. This was the goal everyone has been working towards.
Her final report included the latest COVID-19 related measures that include holding back a certain number of private rooms to use for isolation. These will be fully funded by the province.
In all, Knowlton said there’s a “robust plan for the pandemic in place, that’s been copied by others.”
The COVID-19 vaccination program continues, with the second dose of the Moderna vaccine being administered.
Knowlton said there was some “vaccine hesitancy” among staff. It’s something that’s being seen right across the province. She noted the province will probably encourage all staff to be vaccinated, in part because some families “don’t want staff not vaccinated looking after their loved one.”
The vaccination rate among staff is 52-55 per cent, while among residents it’s 95-100 per cent.
The homes are presently looking into the N-95 respirators – word has been received about possible counterfeit products. Meanwhile, regular testing continues for staff and essential caregivers.
The general focus continues to be on the COVID-19 response, “for the safety of everyone involved,” said Knowlton.
She’ll be spending the rest of the month providing “oversight and advice. With the CAO’s leadership and new administrators at both homes, they’ll do well. This is the moment we’ve been working for … this is the goal.”
County Coun. Anne Eadie, mayor of Kincardine, said, “To be where we are … I’m delighted. Your guidance got us through.”
“We were badly in need of help,” said County Coun. Luke Charbonneau, mayor of Saugeen Shores. “You really came through.”
He commented on the negativity about privately owned homes, while in this case “it’s really important to know the public sector looked to the private sector for help … it highlights your level of expertise – you and your team are tremendously skilled.”
County Coun. Robert Buckle, mayor of South Bruce, said, “You’ve done a superb job. I don’t know where we’d be …”
Knowlton replied by saying, “This is success; this is where we were going … I’m so proud of the homes and staff. Families can go home at night knowing their loved ones are safe and loved in an environment of kindness.”
Chair of the homes committee, Chris Peabody, mayor of Brockton, said to Knowlton, “Thank you to Primacare and your entire staff. It was the unanimous choice of council to bring you aboard, and no one regrets that decision. Thank you very much.”
Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times