ST JOHN’S CEO RESIGNS
Care manager also stood down in wake of flu audit
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.
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.