Resident’s death hits group home hard

Matt Gardner
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A death at a Prince Albert group home last weekend has proven “devastating” for residents and staff members, according to an official representative.

Daily Herald

Prince Albert Group Homes Society (PAGHS) executive director Jeff Gendron confirmed the death on Saturday morning of resident Frances McKenzie, who lived at the group home on Agnew Street.

“I can tell you it was very sudden, tragic and devastating to us,” Gendron said.

“This was a person so full of life. Even at 7 a.m. (she) was just really happy and excited for Christmas, and an hour and a quarter later she’s gone.”

Staff members called an ambulance and McKenzie was taken to the emergency room, but resuscitation efforts proved unsuccessful.

The deceased was a member of the Lac La Ronge Indian Band and was well-regarded by those at the facility.

“It’s not an easy thing right now for any of us,” Gendron said. “Fran was very much loved and loved residing at the Prince Albert Group Homes Society.”

He noted that McKenzie had tried living in a group home in Saskatoon a few years ago as a way to broaden her horizons.

“She was a very independent, loved life kind of person,” he said. “She was gone for about a year and asked to move back, and she was so thankful she came back to Prince Albert.”

The normal procedure for a death in care involves a medical examination of the deceased followed by a coroner’s report.

The Ministry of Social Services, which provides much of the funding for the PAGHS through the Community Living Service Delivery, must also be notified.

Gendron estimated that there had been four deaths that occurred in PAGHS facilities over the last decade, which he characterized as “too often … in the sense that one is too many.”

“We’re not a palliative care type of service, so it is always unexpected,” he added. “When people’s health needs reach a certain point, they transfer to a higher level of care with a health services-run program, whether it’s long-term or intermediate care … So it’s always really sudden.”

I can tell you it was very sudden, tragic and devastating to us. This was a person so full of life. Jeff Gendron

The PAGHS owns and operates eight facilities in Prince Albert and runs additional residential programs, with a total of 39 permanent residents.

Gendron said staff members maintain a close watch on the health of residents.

“To be frank, we’re always taking people to the doctor,” he said.

“We’re always trying to advocate to get people to do something more thorough … What we’re hearing over and over again is there’s a huge shortage of bed space in long-term care, and when we have folks -- because we have no nursing staff, we’re not that level of care at all -- we do what we can.

“But we end up running to the hospital a lot and running to the walk-in clinics for every time someone gets the sniffles or seems to have the flu, because we take that very seriously.”

“Frances was no exception,” he added. “She knew -- and that’s why she moved back here from Saskatoon -- what type of care she would receive from us compared to what she was getting in Saskatoon, and we feel pretty good about that.”

McKenzie’s death, however, has deeply affected those at the facility.

“Frances was full of life, very happy, loved Prince Albert, loved where she lived and will be greatly missed by all of us,” Gendron said.

Funeral arrangements are being handled by River Park Funeral Home.

Organizations: Prince Albert Group Homes Society, Prince Albert, Lac La Ronge Indian Band Ministry of Social Services Community Living Service Delivery

Geographic location: Saskatoon, Agnew Street

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