October 18, 2010
Villa Caritas, a 150-bed facility for seniors with mental health and medical needs will open Nov. 20 on the Misericordia Hospital Campus

PHOTO SUPPLIED

Villa Caritas, a 150-bed facility for seniors with mental health and medical needs will open Nov. 20 on the Misericordia Hospital Campus.

RAMON GONZALEZ
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

EDMONTON – Covenant Health, Canada's largest Catholic provider of health care, continues to expand.

In addition to opening a new facility for seniors in Edmonton, Covenant Health plans to open similar facilities in Killam, Lethbridge, Red Deer and Calgary.

Speaking at the organization's annual community meeting at Westin Hotel Oct. 5, president and CEO Patrick Dumelie said Covenant Health has received provincial funding of $27 million this past year to build these new supportive living facilities.

"We are very proud to be responding as a leader in designated assisted living," Dumelie said. "We have a growing seniors' population, expected to double in the next 20 years, and Covenant Health is certainly dedicated to providing those vulnerable seniors with the care that they require."

Covenant Health - the provincial health care authority for Catholic Hospitals and Continuing Care Centres in Alberta - operates 16 facilities in 11 communities across Alberta.

Its facilities provide a range of health care services, including acute care, continuing care, assisted living, hospice, rehabilitation and respite care, and seniors' housing.

The newest member of the Covenant Health family is Villa Caritas, a 150-bed facility for seniors with complex mental health and medical needs. Opening Nov. 30 on the Misericordia Hospital Campus, the facility includes the transfer of the 106-bed geriatric mental health program from Alberta Hospital.

'JEWEL' FACILITY

This modern, patient-centred environment, which Dumelie described as "the jewel of the Misericordia Campus," includes large, private rooms and bathrooms for all patients, special security enhancements, outdoor spaces, a chapel and dedicated space for recreation, therapy and social activities.

Caritas Village will have 300 staff and an annual operating budget of almost $27 million.

In December 2009, Covenant Health received $4 million from Alberta Seniors and Community Supports for a new 60-bed designated assisted living program in Killam. In March, it received a $5.6 million capital grant from Alberta Housing and Urban Affairs to develop a 40-bed supportive living facility for homeless seniors in Lethbridge.

And thanks to two $10 million provincial capital grants, Covenant Health is moving forward with plans to add 200 accommodation spaces for seniors in Red Deer and Calgary.

Each of the new Covenant Health facilities in Calgary and Red Deer will have 100 designated assisted living beds. Construction of the Calgary facility could start as soon as next summer, Dumelie said at the meeting.

Designated assisted living is often described as both a philosophy and an approach to providing health services in a housing environment, featuring independence and privacy in a living environment that offers medical and personal care supports.

"We are extremely pleased to extend our mission to Calgary and Red Deer seniors," Dumelie said.

Some 300 people attended the meeting, including representatives of the 16 facilities Covenant Health operates throughout the province.

LEGACY QUILT

At the meeting, a masterpiece legacy quilt was displayed on the stage. The 4.45-metre quilt, a gift from the community boards of Covenant Health, was made by Lethbridge textile artist Amy Dodic and tells the story of how pioneering groups of religious women founded Alberta's health care system over the past 150 years.