Huntsville’s Fairvern Nursing Home is now officially under District of Muskoka control.
Officials from all around Muskoka attended a transition ceremony at the home Thursday morning, with documents signed and keys changing hands.
“Today we pass the keys to the District of Muskoka,” says an emotional Dana Murdy, Chair of Fairvern’s Board of Directors. “It was the spirit of collaboration between the board and the district that got us to this point, and the board is confident that Fairvern is in good hands going forward, from this day until when the doors open in the new location.”
The transition comes almost two years after the province approved the expansion of Fairvern into a 160-bed home, up from its current 76. The home will be redeveloped at a new location on Centre St. at Hanes Rd. by 2025.
“It’s a good day, a good day for long term care in Huntsville,” says a grinning Huntsville Mayor Karin Terziano. “I’m feeling excited, relieved, happy. All good things I’m feeling. Because this is the first concrete step into the future of our new Fairvern, and for me that’s a very important item.”
According to Terziano, there was a risk of losing Fairvern entirely if the district hadn’t come on board.
“We went to district, and [it] wasn’t obligated to take on another home,” says Terziano. “But fortunately, through some great staff at district and through some great support from the District Council, they said ‘we know how important long term care is in Muskoka, and we know how important it is not to lose these beds’.”
District Chair John Klinck says this has been a long time coming.
“It’s one of those great big sighs of relief,” says Klinck. “You look around and see some of the faces that are here this morning, and we’re so thankful that we have those soldiers that keep pressing forward, and they got the job done.”
Klinck also acknowledged the provincial government for its support in granting Fairvern the additional beds. “For a community that has as many seniors as we have, [it] is the appropriate course of action, so a job well done to everybody,” he says.
Carrie Acton, the home’s new administrator, says the next few weeks will be spent learning to merge with district staff, implementing new policies and procedures, and working with architects and stakeholders ahead of the planned redevelopment.
“I’m really excited to be part of the district,” says the home’s new administrator, Carrie Acton. “I think it brings to the home great resources, great expertise, and just a larger team to support the redevelopment of Fairvern as we look to move into our home for 160 residents.”
Norm Barrette, Muskoka’s Commissioner of Health Services, says not much will change on the front end for people at the home.
“In the background, we’re looking at more back-office administrative supports we can provide to Fairvern over time,” says Barrette. “But really, [for] residents and staff, for the most part it’s going to be business as usual while we’re doing work behind the scenes. To help with finances, to help with I.T., those kinds of back-office things [are] really what we’re focusing on over the short term.”
According to Barrette, the district will be seeking community feedback on the redevelopment plans over the next few weeks to inform the architects’ final designs, which will be presented at a community information session on July 28.
A ground-breaking ceremony to kick off the project is planned for Fairvern’s 40th anniversary on August 11.