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In a letter to a Penticton newspaper on April 1, Okanagan-Westside MLA Rick Thorpe accused Hospital Employees’ Union (CUPE) members of spreading misinformation and frightening Summerland seniors with claims that two long-term care facilities in the community were slated for closure.

But now it’s come to light that on the same day Thorpe’s letter was published, an official from the Interior Health Authority was conducting meetings with staff verifying that Summerland Lodge and Kelly Care Centre will be closed, probably within 18 to 24 months.

“Rumours have been rampant in the community for months,” says Katherine Kreller, director of HEU’s Kelowna office. “But this is the first formal confirmation that the two seniors’ residential facilities that combined are home to 115 seniors are indeed going to close.”

A new 75-bed complex care residential facility is scheduled for construction, and the health authority says only those residents who want to move to the new facility will do so when it is completed. They or their families will be on their own to find other alternatives.

“Health workers are deeply concerned about the welfare of the people they care for and wish that government would listen to them about how to improve the system,” says Kreller. “I would encourage Mr. Thorpe to meet with our members rather than criticize their concerns.”

Last week, an IHA official publicly claimed that HEU members are only worried about their jobs, but Kreller says health care workers know that fragile seniors who are transferred to other facilities are at higher risk than if they stay put.

“That’s the real reason why HEU members have been so vocal in the community condemning the closure threats,” says Kreller. “They also want to keep their jobs, and continue to care for the seniors who are an important part of their lives - and vice versa.”

The fate of the buildings that currently house the two facilities is unclear. The owner of Summerland Lodge, which is a private facility, is attempting to win a contract to renovate it - so far unsuccessfully. Kelly Care is owned by IHA, which says its future use has not been decided.


Dale Fuller, communications officer,
604-456-7036, 604-818-5105