Care man­ager also stood down in wake of flu au­dit

Wangaratta Chronicle - - Front Page - BY SHANE DOUTHIE sd­outhie@ ne­me­

ST John’s Vil­lage chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer (CEO) Glenn Phelps re­signed last Mon­day in the wake of an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the eight in­fluenza deaths at the fa­cil­ity at the end of Au­gust and the start of September.

Care man­ager Neale Mor­ris was also stood aside un­til the St John’s board re­ceives a re­port into an au­dit car­ried out by the Aus­tralian Aged Care Qual­ity Agency last week which was or­dered by Fed­eral Min­is­ter for Aged Care Ken Wyatt when the deaths were first an­nounced.

Mr Wyatt vis­ited Wan­garatta on Mon­day but de­cided not to drop in at St John’s while the au­dit was still be­ing car­ried out.

Mr Phelps was the fourth CEO or act­ing CEO at the aged care cen­tre in less than three years.

A for­mer long-term board mem­ber, he be­came act­ing CEO of St John’s in May last year after Rob Hank­ins de­cided not to ex­tend his con­tract in that po­si­tion after just six months in the role.

Mr Hank­ins re­placed for­mer Wan­garatta hos­pi­tal chief ex­ec­u­tive John Il­lott who was in­terim CEO for al­most nine months fol­low­ing the res­ig­na­tion of Peter Hill who left St John’s in Fe­bru­ary 2015 after two years in the job.

It’s been a tough 12 months for the St John’s board.

In Novem­ber 2016 St John’s had to re­pay a cou­ple at the re­tire­ment vil­lage their share of at least $300,000 wrongly charged to res­i­dents for more than a decade.

In July this year a pro­posed merger be­tween St John’s Vil­lage with Angli­can Aged Care Ser­vice’s Bene­tas failed after both par­ties “mu­tu­ally agreed” not to pro­ceed after agree­ment could not be reached on “com­mer­cial terms”.

In De­cem­ber 2016 Bishop John Parkes had told res­i­dents the merger was nec­es­sary “to en­sure the long-term vi­a­bil­ity of our ser­vices”.

Bishop Parkes said he will re­main act­ing CEO while he works with a team of con­sul­tants and a project man­ager to be­gin the process of ap­point­ing a new CEO.

He said the board and the St John’s Vil­lage com­mu­nity “had some chal­lenges over the last 12 months” but the in­fluenza out- break was the great­est.

“What we couldn’t pre­dict was the statewide in­fluenza out­break would hit us so hard,” he told the Wan­garatta Chron­i­cle yes­ter­day.

“It’s been par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult due to its sever­ity and the num­bers it affected.”

At one point dur­ing the out­break 123 res­i­dents and staff were affected by flu.

“Since then we have been par­tic­u­larly proac­tive in putting in the sig­nif­i­cant re­sources we be­lieve we need to en­sure the or­gan­i­sa­tion re­mains at the top of its game,” he said.

“I think we have to bol­ster some of our sys­tems and depth of skill at both board and op­er­a­tion level.

“I don’t want to pre-empt the re­port but it may re­quire for us to make some changes or ad­di­tions but we will wait and see.”

He said he met with staff on Wed­nes­day and re­ceived a pos­i­tive re­sponse.

“We have very good peo­ple and they’re work­ing well and pos­i­tively,” he said. “There’s lead­er­ship in place. “My per­sonal es­ti­mate of the res­i­dents is they are in a good, pos­i­tive frame of mind.”

Bishop Parkes said he would make a more sub­stan­tial pub­lic state­ment next week once he has re­ceived the au­dit re­port.

He said it was ap­pro­pri­ate Mr Mor­ris stood aside un­til the au­dit re­port was com­pleted which he be­lieved will be passed onto St John’s early next week.

PHOTO: Emma Hil­lier

CHAL­LENG­ING TIMES: Bishop John Parkes (right) said staff and res­i­dents were still in a pos­i­tive frame of mind de­spite the con­tin­ued fall­out from the deadly in­fluenza out­break.

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