‘It never rains, but it pours.’
“Don’t say that,” interjected Woodingford Lodge Oxford County Director Corrie Fransen, able to muster something of a laugh Wednesday morning in Tillsonburg.
The old saying, referring to trouble coming in bunches, is particularly apt for Woodingford Lodge Tillsonburg. Failure of a water valve in the sprinkler system was blamed for an early-morning evacuation of its 32 residents Saturday, January 11, along with extensive damage to the Cedar Crest wing of the long-term care facility. Repairs to damaged areas were proceeding well towards an anticipated ‘mid-March’ residential return, when a second incident, also attributed to valve failure, occurred Friday, February 28th, this time on the Rosewood side.
“It’s a setback we can deal with,” said Fransen. “Once people are back here and living again, it will be a distant memory.”
One positive to the second incident was the fact personnel were onsite to both detect and react to the situation quickly.
“It makes quite a difference when it doesn’t happen in the middle of the night,” said Fransen.
Damage has largely required re-drywalling and repairs to the corridor, a first step which is well underway. The second, and more important part of the equation says Fransen, is to ensure another similar, potentially disruptive incident won’t follow. Two independent third-party engineering consultants are part of the investigation process.
“We need to be confident it’s all in working order when we bring the residents back.”
The affected area is an unpleasant, if much smaller reminder of damage to a Cedar Crest wing which was gutted and has been largely returned to its original, or an improved condition.
“It’s looking much better,” said Fransen, framed by new drywall, woodwork and ceilings and re-waxed or resurfaced floors (tiles have replaced damaged carpet), along with unseen repairs to the plumbing and electrical systems and the nurse call system. “It looks close.”
Cedar Crest living quarters are even ‘closer’ to rehabilitation. Residents’ families were invited in to reinstall personal touches, for example flowers on windowsills and bedside tables, family photos on dressers and shelves, right on down to a jar of cashews beside a lounge chair in front of the TV.
“We wanted family to be able to come in and help set up so when residents do get back, it feels like home again,” Frasen explained of a move which is psychological as well as physical in nature.
“It back to ‘familiar and home,’” she added. “It’s your comfort zone, it’s your home.”
Both residents and staff are looking forward to returning to Woodingford and settling back into familiar routines.
“And then we’ll celebrate how everyone worked together and how everyone is back in this comfortable environment,” said Fransen.
The original mid-March estimate for a return is not out of the realm of possibility.
“We’re still looking at that,” said Fransen. “But again, we need assurance everything is working and we want a few days to test that.
“We just want to be absolutely certain we’re coming back to where everything is safe and we don’t have to face this again.”