Ground broken for Stittsville LTC home to replace West End Villa

By the end of Extendicare’s rebuilding process, its five Ottawa homes – West End Villa, Starwood, Medex, New Orchard Lodge and Laurier Manor – will be demolished and replaced with new spaces, said CEO Dr. Michael Guerriere.

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Extendicare paved the way for a new long-term care home in Stittsville last Friday, part of a seven-year process to replace all of its five Ottawa LTC homes.

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The $ 76.3 million new house on Wellings Private, off Hazeldean Road, is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2023 and occupied in early 2024. It will accommodate current residents of the Extendicare West End Villa and add others .

By the end of Extendicare’s reconstruction process, its five Ottawa homes – West End Villa, Starwood, Medex, New Orchard Lodge and Laurier Manor – will be demolished and replaced with new spaces, said CEO Dr. Michael Guerriere.

Some of the new homes will be on existing property, and others, such as the West End Villa, currently located on Elmira Drive, will move to new locations.

Extendicare currently operates about 700 beds in Ottawa. By the end of the reconstruction process, the for-profit chain will operate over 1,000 Ottawa beds, Guerriere said.

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Extendicare came under fire after a COVID-19 outbreak in the West End Villa started in August 2020, killing 19 residents in mid-October. The province ordered Ottawa Hospital to temporarily take over the management of the home along with Laurier Manor, who was then also in the middle of an outbreak.

For-profit LTC operators were under control last year when the Ontario Long-Term Care Commission investigated the causes of LTC deaths during the pandemic.

The Commission’s report, released in April, noted that Ontario would need at least 96,000 more LTC beds by 2041 – and that this would require significant capital.

The private sector has the necessary capital to build new LTC beds, but there is no reason for the accommodation and care of residents to be handled by the same unit, the commission’s report states.

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“It’s more relevant to consider whether the owner is involved in long-term care as part of his mission or to make money.”

The ceremonial groundbreaking for Extendicare Stittsville included, from left to right, Ontario's longtime Minister Rod Phillips, longtime resident Ann Cioppa, 79, Clayton Donnelly, Extendicare West End Villa administrator, Carleton MPP Goldie Ghamari and Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson.
The ceremonial groundbreaking for Extendicare Stittsville included, from left to right, Ontario’s longtime Minister Rod Phillips, longtime resident Ann Cioppa, 79, Clayton Donnelly, Extendicare West End Villa administrator, Carleton MPP Goldie Ghamari and Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson. Photo by Errol McGihon /Postmedia

Asked about the commission’s recommendations to separate housing and mission construction, long-term care minister Rod Phillips said the province looked at all options.

On Thursday, the government introduced new legislation that would strengthen enforcement and make it easier for the province to take over housing and increase direct care for residents to an average minimum of four hours by March 31, 2025. The province has also promised more money for education and employment by staff and inspectors.

“What we said in the legislation I introduced (Thursday) is that we expect the long-term care home mission to be quality of care and quality of life,” said Phillips, who was in Stittsville for the groundbreaking.

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“How it is structured, we are very open to what kind of partners want to come forward. We want to work with the best operators.”

There are 220 LTC projects underway in Ontario, including many with nonprofit advocates, Phillips said.

Ann Cioppa, who has lived in the West End Villa since 2017, had COVID-19 last year, but does not remember much about the experience.

She is currently sharing a room and is looking forward to getting more space in the new home.

All of Extendicare’s current beds were built to 1972 standards. In the current West End Villa, as many as four people share a room. The new Stittsville home will have just over 600 square feet for each occupant, more than double the current space.

Each resident also gets their own room.

“The floor space is simply not enough,” Cioppa said. “People have more things now than they had 20 years ago.”

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