Fight for Nursing Home becomes a reality.
May 2015 – After years of public outcry, grassroots lobbying efforts and political posturing, Miramichi is finally getting a new nursing home.
Premier Brian Gallant delivered the news to an ecstatic crowd at the Miramichi Boys and Girls Club Friday afternoon, with the Liberal government making a commitment to build a 240-bed facility.
“Our government is committed to making life better for our seniors and this new home will ensure that seniors in the Miramichi region will receive high quality care with the dignity and respect they deserve,” Gallant said.
When it opens a few years from now, it will replace the deteriorating, 133-bed Mount St. Joseph Nursing Home as well as the 80-bed Miramichi Senior Citizens Home.
The development will come courtesy of a public-private partnership that will allow businesses to bid for the rights to build, design, finance, maintain, own and operate the nursing home in accordance with New Brunswick’s nursing home standards.
Government officials couldn’t offer a hard timeline for construction or a potential opening, saying those details would become clear once it opens up a request for proposals from private firms.
Bill Fraser, the tourism minister and MLA for Miramichi, fought back tears at the announcement. The veteran politician had been working to secure a new nursing home since his early days in the government of former premier Shawn Graham.
Fraser told reporters for the first time in his career, he was speechless.
After collecting himself, he said he was proud of his government for recognizing and properly addressing what he has repeatedly called a crisis situation in this community.
The model the government has settled on is similar to what was presented by Dr. Gerard Losier, the popular Miramichi doctor who had been leading much of the local lobbying efforts, and also a recommendation made by Miramichi city council.
Overall, the number of beds comes in under the 300 that was being suggested by Losier and the 260 council had suggested.
Even so, an overjoyed Losier looked like the happiest person in the room, rising to his feet after Gallant had finished speaking and rushing up to thank him personally.
Losier had done much to draw attention to the impact the shortage of nursing home beds was having on services at the Miramichi Regional Hospital, where dozens of seniors who can’t find space at a nursing home reside on stretchers in hallways, the emergency department and just about anywhere there is room.
On May 3, a public forum on the nursing home situation organized by the doctor drew a crowd of more than 1,000 people.
Finance Minister Roger Melanson told reporters at the legislature Friday the model would allow businesses to bid on a new nursing home. The winning bidder would own and operate the long-term care facility, absolving the province of any financial liabilities, such as future maintenance.
The contract would also guarantee costs for taxpayers, unlike public projects that risk going over-budget.
The private firm would also operate the nursing home, with the province handing over money for leasing beds.
Credit: Kris McDavid & John Chilibeck
Shannex: Losier Hall
Losier Hall is located on Water Street in the Chatham Head community of Miramichi, New Brunswick.