Province invests $30 million to create long-term-care beds at Barrie seniors home

·2 min read

Editor's note: This story was first published on Nov. 20, 2020

Garry Hopkins received great news two days in a row.

When you’re the CEO of a long-term-care facility in the middle of a pandemic, you can use all the good news you can get.

First, a COVID-19 outbreak at IOOF Seniors Home in Barrie that began Nov. 5 when a staff member tested positive was declared over Nov. 19.

“Even though we did have the one case, we are very pleased because nobody else contracted the disease, which indicates we are doing a good job with our (personal protective equipment), and our hand-washing and infection-control measures,” Hopkins told Simcoe.com.

The second piece of good news came Nov. 20 when the provincial government announced it would invest $30 million in the facility to create 64 long-term-care spaces and renovate 66 existing spaces.

IOOF is one of 29 projects across the province that will see 30,000 new spaces created over 10 years at a cost of $1.75 billion. There are 38,500 Ontario residents waiting to access a long-term-care space.

The new spaces will be built with the current pandemic in mind by ensuring fewer residents per room.

The first phase of the IOOF project — 62 new beds — should be ready in about two years, with the entire project complete by 2024.

Hopkins said the IOOF facility does not have any rooms with four residents, even though it was built in 1980.

“They were pretty forward thinking,” he said. “Many live in separated accommodations. They may share a washroom, but have their own bedroom spaces.”

Hopkins said IOOF now has workers wearing face shields, as well as face masks, to further reduce the risk of infections.

“We have to be alert all the time; you can’t let your guard down,” he said. “Of course it’s stressful because you know what the case numbers are and you worry. That’s why we are extra vigilant.”

Barrie-Innisfil MPP Andrea Khanjin made the project announcement outside the IOOF facility, saying the Conservative government is focusing on long-term care, including a recent provision to provide four hours of daily care per resident.

“It’s not been an easy year during COVID, but, given our government was only elected two years ago, we have done as much as we can to put our best foot forward,” Khanjin said. “Stay tuned for more.”

Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance