Sandra Ohlemann (second from right), who lives in Creekside Landing, participates in a ground-breaking ceremony with (from left) Kevin Svoboda of Creekside Landing; Diane Shendruk, Interior Health VP of Clinical Operation North; Mable Elmore, Parliamentary Secretary for Seniors and Long-Term Care; and, Vernon Monashee MLA Harwinder Sandhu.
On a sunny spring afternoon in Vernon, Sandra Ohlemann looked out at the flat lot around her, damp and muddy from a recent rain. Behind her was Creekside Landing, a long-term care home in Vernon. Beside her was an excavator, poised to begin digging the foundation of an expansion that will see 90 new spaces added to the facility.
“We need more spaces for seniors to live, so watching the progress on the expansion every day is exciting,” she said. “As seniors, we need places to call home and here at Creekside Landing, this is my home.”
Sandra made the remarks as part of an event to celebrate the launch of construction on the Creekside Landing expansion. She joined Mable Elmore, Parliamentary Secretary for Seniors Services and Long-Term Care, as they together plunged a shovel into the dirt on the site – the small gesture symbolic of the province’s investment in 495 new long-term care beds in the Interior region.
With B.C.’s aging population, seniors are in need of access to more services. Seniors care is a strategic priority for Interior Health, with a focus on coordinated access to team-based specialized community services. Also part of the 495-bed investment are projects in Kamloops, Nelson, Kelowna and Penticton.
As someone who makes her home in assisted living at Creekside Landing, Sandra observed the need at a personal level.
“In some cases, one spouse is in assisted living and the other is in long-term care, and they’ll visit each other every day,” she said. “They want to be together as long as possible, and more spaces would allow for that.”
Sandra’s husband has passed away, yet her daughter and her family live in Vernon, visit her often, and have her over for Sunday dinners. At some point, Sandra and other seniors in assisted living may require the further care afforded by long-term care. Staying close to family members is another reason to create more spaces in these communities.
Sandra Ohlemann takes to the podium to share her excitement about the Creekside Landing expansion
Sandra’s life story is like many others of those in long-term care. There is individual history – rich in triumphs and struggles, love and loss – spanning generations of a person’s family and friends. There is also the collective history – the person’s contributions that have shaped their communities.
Sandra’s story is itself weaved into the history of B.C.’s health-care system. For more than three decades, she worked as an operating room nurse in Victoria, Vancouver and finally Prince George. Her husband worked as a regional developer in each of these communities. Together they raised their daughter and son.
With her home now at Creekside Landing, she spoke of enjoying her daily walks by Vernon Creek where she spots deer, geese and, on occasion, blue heron. On the other side of the creek, excavators and bulldozers move earth to lay the groundwork for the new facility’s foundation.
“Next spring, I look forward to crossing the future footbridge to walk over here,” said Sandra, with a smile and the relish of someone who has never tired of the seasons.