NEWS

Southeast PCH opens on National Aboriginal Day

Réal Cloutier, WRHA vice-president long term care (right), speaks with Chief Debbie Chief of the of the Brokenhead First Nation and Deputy Premier Eric Robinson at the opening of the Southeast Personal Care Home.
Réal Cloutier, WRHA vice-president long term care (right), speaks with Chief Debbie Chief of the of the Brokenhead First Nation and Deputy Premier Eric Robinson at the opening of the Southeast Personal Care Home.

BY SUSIE STRACHAN
Winnipeg Health Region
Published Tuesday June 21, 2011

National Aboriginal Day was a fitting choice to open Winnipeg's newest personal care home, which will soon be home to elderly First Nations, Inuit and Métis people.

The Southeast Personal Care Home will house 80 people in private rooms, where they will be cared for by a staff which is largely Aboriginal, and who speak the many first nations languages of their patients.

"This home is the first of its kind in Winnipeg. It will care for Aboriginal elders in a way that respects their traditions, values and cultures,"said Manitoba Health Minister Theresa Oswald at the opening of the new building at 1265 Lee Blvd. in Fairfield Park. "The building not only has state-of-the art medical facilities, it also has a ceremonial smudge room." The building is owned and operated by First Nations, while the Winnipeg Health Region's Long Term Care program will manage health-care services at the facility. The Southeast Personal Care Home expands upon the Region's current Aboriginal Health Services and provides a more traditional, holistic environment; important for our aging First Nations, Métis and Inuit clients.

"Southeast will not only be home to Aboriginal people, but it will largely be staffed by Aboriginal people," said Real Cloutier, Vice President, Long Term Care with the Winnipeg Health Region.  "At the moment, 93 per cent of the RNs and LPNs, 70 per cent of health-care aides, all the business staff and 75 per cent of housekeeping staff are Aboriginal."

The first patient is a man from the Hollow Water First Nation, who will move into the home tomorrow, June 22, said Barbara Matthes, the Director of Care at the home. "We will move people into the rooms, wing by wing. The home is set up so that there are 20 private rooms to a wing."

The Southeast Personal Care Home at 1265 Lee Boulevard.

The 52,000 sq. ft. facility consists of four wings, each with its own multipurpose area consisting of a dining room, lounge, recreation area and kitchenette area. Each wing has 20 private rooms, each with its own washroom, and Internet connection. Each room has a ceiling track, which is used to lift heavier patients from their bed to wheelchair or washroom.

The Southeast Resource Development Council (SERDC), which represents eight First Nations in southeastern Manitoba, contributed funds and the land for the project. One of SERDC's long-standing goals is to provide appropriate care for Aboriginal elders from First Nations, Métis, Dene, Inuit and non-status communities.

Chief Debbie Chief, of the Brokenhead First Nation, said the new care home, which is located on land adjacent to Southeast Collegiate, an SERDC-operated school for First Nations youth, will provide important opportunities for interaction and intergenerational activities that reflect the diverse cultures and heritage of the residents and students.

"The collegiate next door will bring together the elders and the young people, so the elders can share teachings with youth," said Chief, adding that while it took 18 years to build a seniors' home for Aboriginal elders in the city, it was well worth the wait. "I'm very proud to be here today, in this home which will meet the physical, mental and spiritual needs of our elders."

The opening of the facility was marked by a presentation of a Talking Stick by Minister Oswald and the Winnipeg Health Region, along with a number of other gifts from Chief Debbie Chief, Bunibonibee Cree Nation Chief Bailey Colon, Long Plain First Nation Chief Dennis Meeches, and South Beach Casino chair Furlon Barker.

The new personal-care home incorporates green design elements to focus on the importance the environment has in Aboriginal cultures and to reduce energy costs over the life of the building. The capital cost for the building was just under $21 million.

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