By P.A. Sévigny
During last week’s exclusive telephone interview, local MNA David Birnbaum told The Suburban that he had already talked to Health Minister Gaétan Barette and local CIUSSS (Centre Intégré Universitaire de Santé et de Services Sociaux) director Dr. Lawrence Rosenberg about what the local health center’s managers planned to do in order to maintain caregiver services in the city’s west-end.
“I don’t deny that this is a serious dislocation for several of the drop-in center’s clients,” said Birnbaum. “But their caregivers can be assured that we will be doing everything we can to maintain direct services for all of the [CLSC Réné-Cassin Caregiver Support Program] clients that will be affected by the move.”
According to the local MNA, talks have already “moved quickly forward” towards finding new places for just over forty patients who used to use the local senior care facilities.
“Madame Dupuis (Francine Dupuis–the new executive director of the west-end CIUSSS) assured me that each and every one of the drop-in center’s clients will be followed by a social worker,” said Birnbaum.
As closing the CLSC drop-in center will force local caregivers to find a new place for aging and vulnerable parents and partners in their care, local CIUSSS workers will also have to find or create at least 30-40 new places in similar senior care facilities throughout the city’s West End.
During a subsequent interview, Herb Finkleberg–the executive director of the Cummings Jewish Centre for seniors–told The Suburban that as far as he knew, health care managers are already trying to set up a meeting at the end of the month with all the senior care facility managers in their jurisdiction.
Following a question about what the Cummings Center would be prepared to do in order to accommodate new demands for place within their assorted senior care programs, Finkleberg said that he could provide up to ten places based on a case-by-case selection process.
While senior health care providers such as those in the Henri Bradet Seniors Residence and Westmount’s Ste. Marguerite’s will be expected to do their part to help the CLSC maintain their Senior Caregivers Program, the process is bound to get complicated, as the CIUSSS must deal with a number of people who are already on assorted facility waiting lists as well as all of the different schedules that could disrupt routines for both patients and their caregivers.
As health care employees have now been ordered to refer all media calls to the health center’s own media spokesman, only Patrick Durivage—the leader of the CLSC worker’s union—was willing to talk to The Suburban.
Aside from all their best intentions, reality once again proved to be a cold shower as Durivage described at least one example of what the new cuts to the caregivers program might mean for patients and for those who care for them.
“One of my patients is a 78-year-old man with Parkinson’s,” said Durivage. “He used to go to the drop-in center and after they referred him to a different facility, they told him that they could pick him up at around 9 o’clock in the morning. But that was far too early for my client who needs a lot of time to get up, get dressed and start his day.”
As his client couldn’t be made ready for his early morning pick-up, Durivage told The Suburban that no other arrangements could be made to help the man find new care facilities.
“Of course, they’re trying to re-direct and re-organize caregiver facilities but there’s already a short-list with over 50 caregivers who are waiting for short-term counseling,” said Durivage. “Maybe we could do more for them but let’s face it…Caregivers often don’t have the energy you need to fight the system.”
“…and people aren’t getting any younger,” he said. “We’re getting more and more calls for help every day.”
“This is a serious dislocation for several of the drop-in center’s clients,” acknowledged D’Arcy McGee MNA David Birnbaum.