An announcement was made at the Lloydmin - ster Pioneer Lodge on Feb. 23 that construction is going to begin this summer on a new wing that will provide an additional 44 continuing care spaces and a needed upgrade to the building’s fire safety system.
The Alberta government provided $4.4 million toward the construction project and $1.39 million to the safety system respectively, with the new wing expected to be complete by late 2016 or early 2017.
“It is truly a relief,” said Joy Bell, administrator at the Pioneer Lodge. “We’ve been dealing in this area with this shortage for a long time and the board at the Pioneer Lodge was very aware of it, fighting very hard and talking to our local repre - sentatives.
“To finally have this announcement and to know within two years we should be able to be keeping our residents in their area, closer to their comfort zone with their families, it’s just a relief.”
At present, the lodge is considered a Level 2 facility, only able to provide “mundane” tasks like laundry and housekeeping, with no onsite medical services available to residents. With the expansion, the lodge will be moved up to a Level 3 facility with the ability to have some of that medical training on the floor.
Richard Starke, MLA for Vermilion-Lloydmin - ster, referred to a bi-provincial health service plan that was signed off on last year, outlining a continuing need for care spaces in the community. He said upon completion, this project will take care of most of that problem.
“This will look after 80 per cent of that need, which is huge, of course, and really the plans for doing this were started and being worked on even before that agreement was signed off,” Starke said.
“I have to give a lot of credit to Joy and to the housing group board who have identified and really proactively worked on a plan that will be able to go under construction already this year.”
Starke said the No. 1 preference of seniors is to stay home when possible, but often the situation comes about where the level of care needed means moving into a care facility, and this has been seen by many as one of the top needs in the community for some time.
“We have long-term space, we have lodge space in this facility, but what we call the supportive living Level 3 is truly an acute need that we have in the community right now,” he said.
Mayor Rob Saunders was also present at the announcement to provide comments from the city and expressed that it was a great day for Lloyd - minster and the Pioneer Lodge to finally be able to address these needs that have gone on for so long now.
He said the city was aware of the deficit in beds for seniors’ care and when they took a closer look at the Pioneer Lodge, they saw room for onsite expansion.
“As everyone was analyzing what the potential to increase capacity was, the Pioneer Lodge was one that the administration decided would be a good opportunity to put forward a proposal for expansion to accommodate aging in place, which would accommodate higher levels of care on the same site,” said Saunders.
As for the fire safety upgrade, the lodge currently has a sprinkler system but not all areas of the lodge are protected. After the new project is complete, they will have the needed sprinklers, plus addi - tional fire safety measures that can be taken and put in place, making the facility more secure for its residents.