It was a bittersweet moment as current and past board members, friends, family, staff as well as residents, gathered in front of the Fairvern Nursing Home on June 30, 2022, at an official ceremony to mark the home’s transition from its volunteer board to the District of Muskoka.
Board chair Dana Murdy was teary-eyed. She’s had a 42-year history with the home. Her father, Deane Murdy, was one of the people who worked behind the scene to turn the old hospital into a home for seniors. He was also the first chair of the board of directors when the home opened. Murdy said she clearly remembered selling balloons at a young age to raise awareness at the time about the home’s fundraising campaign. “And it wasn’t even named Fairvern then, that name didn’t come up until later,” she recalled.
“It’s an old building. We bubble gum it together every day. It’s a home, though… the culture here is not about four walls. The culture here is about the staff and making this a home.”
Murdy said she’s impressed with the professionalism the District has shown as well as their innovation. She said the District has taken the board’s wildest wish list and gone with it.
“What you’re going to see when this is built will be somewhere where people are going to come for years [to see]how to build long-term care,” said Murdy, adding that the new home will comprise small units of about nine people with access to their own living and dining room space as well as green space.
“You won’t walk down a long hall. You will have your own green space. For infection control, it’s going to be amazing. I was told today that every resident will have their own bathroom for personal pride and for common decency that everybody deserves,” she added. “This is what we had dreamed of, and this is what the District is going to provide.”
Murdy thanked members of the board, particularly John Wright and Tracey Kuusk, for the immense amount of work they have done to prepare the home for transition—it took 18 months to tie everything together, she said.
While the board will dissolve, Murdy said all staff members at Fairvern have been offered a job as the District takes over. “It’s a bittersweet day but it was time to move on, and I’m super happy it’s happening,” she added.
Carrie Acton, the former administrator at Muskoka Landing, is Fairvern’s new administrator.
Approximately two years ago the Province approved the expansion of Fairvern from its current 76 beds to 160 beds. The home will be redeveloped on donated lands at Centre Street, close to Hanes Road, and it is hoped the project will be completed sometime in 2025.
Huntsville Mayor Karin Terziano, who feared that if the District didn’t take over the home it was in danger of closing, worked hard to convince her fellow District councillors that it was the right thing to do.
She too was emotional during her speech and thanked everyone involved. “On a personal note, I had two grandparents who lived here at different times. I spent a lot of time visiting in this building. It’s very, very dear to my heart because of the great care that they got,” she said.
“Transitions such as today give us the opportunity to reflect on the past while at the same time looking to the future,” said District commissioner of health services Norm Barrette. “So much work has been done by Fairvern staff, the board of directors, and the community over the years to make this home such a vital part of the community. Today is a chance to celebrate those efforts and more importantly to welcome residents, staff, and the Fairvern community as we all join together now as part of the District of Muskoka.”
District of Muskoka Chair John Klinck said the enthusiasm around Fairvern was contagious. “Over the last few months, I have had a chance to see and hear from you firsthand and I am sincerely impressed by your commitment to caring for residents, to supporting your co-workers, and most importantly your passion for this home. It is contagious.”
The home was referred to as the Huntsville District Nursing Home. Fairvern’s 40th-anniversary celebration is expected to take place at its new location for a ground-breaking ceremony on August 11.