Letter: What do we know about the evacuation of Highland Wood

To the Editor

It has been more than eight weeks since the evacuation of Highland Wood began. A leaking roof had begun in one wing of the small long-term care residence attached to the Haliburton Highlands Health Services hospital. The calls began to go out to relatives and caregivers. On Feb. 6 and 7 the evacuation was in full swing for all residents.

Some of the difficulties that ensued for staff for residents and their relatives were:

1. The suddenness.

2. The uncertainty – how much more leaking might occur how many would be moved where could they be accommodated.

3. Six residents were placed in the Haliburton/Minden facilities but the remaining 22 residents were placed 80 km or more outside of the county.

4. The adjustment to totally new and generally much larger facilities was very frightening and extremely disorienting to residents especially those with cognitive difficulties. Most residents didn’t know a single person in their new surroundings.

5. The sudden adjustment required of residents and their families to new nurses new care staff and a new doctor was a strain. It required considerable advocacy and discussion by family members complicated again by the distances from Haliburton.

These are some of the difficulties staff families and caregivers are coping with and addressing.  It is well known that moves can cause permanent setbacks for our fragile elderly.

Many times in the last months I heard from others “this is a tragedy” “this should never have happened.” Yes it is tragic. But what do we know as a result? What has been learned? What can be done differently once there is a new roof? What changes can be made to address a different emergency should one occur – a tornado a fire?

Let’s be sure something positive comes from this!

Terry Hartwick

Chair Highland Wood Family Council