‘60 years of car­ing’

R.K. Mac­don­ald Nurs­ing Home in Antigo­nish cel­e­brates mile­stone

The Casket - - Local - COREY LEBLANC coreyle­blanc@the­cas­ket.ca

In a his­tory filled with count­less mile­stones, the R.K. Mac­don­ald Nurs­ing Home in Antigo­nish cel­e­brated its most re­cent one with an open house.

“We are very proud to cel­e­brate 60 years of car­ing,” Michelle Thomp­son, R.K. CEO, said dur­ing her words of wel­come for the Oct. 3 cel­e­bra­tion.

There was a full house in the R.K.’S main din­ing room to com­mem­o­rate those spe­cial six decades, since its first res­i­dent – Joseph Ce­sale, 92, of Havre Boucher, Antigo­nish County – moved in on Feb. 24, 1958.

Since that day, there have been changes to the then 70-bed, two-storey se­niors’ home, in­clud­ing a pair of ex­pan­sions, along with the ad­vances in tech­nol­ogy that have come for such fa­cil­i­ties.

Nev­er­the­less, what hasn’t changed is that com­mit­ment by staff mem­bers, vol­un­teers, board mem­bers and sup­port­ers to ‘car­ing.’

“It is a time of deep joy for us to mark with those of you gath­ered here to­day – the sig­nif­i­cance of this spe­cial day of bless­ing for the com­mu­nity of Antigo­nish,” Con­gre­ga­tion of the Sis­ters of Saint Martha Leader Sis­ter Bren­dalee Boisvert said.

The Sis­ters played an in­te­gral role, one that be­gan 15 years be­fore the fa­cil­ity wel­comed its first res­i­dents with mak­ing this com­mu­nity dream a real­ity.

Ce­ment­ing their com­mit­ment to the ini­tia­tive, the Sis­ters mort­gaged their home – Bethany Mother­house – to help fi­nance its con­struc­tion.

In 1955, Rod­er­ick Kennedy ‘R.K.’ Mac­don­ald willed $100,000 for con­struc­tion of a se­niors’ home, which served as the im­pe­tus to raise $450,000 to fi­nance the ini­tia­tive.

“There have been changes and growth, but you have never wa­vered from your com­mit­ment to pas­sion­ate care,” War­den

Owen Mccar­ron of the Mu­nic­i­pal­ity of the County of Antigo­nish said, de­scrib­ing the R.K. as a “home-away-from-home for so many.”

In a let­ter mark­ing the oc­ca­sion, Town of Antigo­nish Mayor Lau­rie Boucher, who could not at­tend the cel­e­bra­tion, agreed.

“It is quite a mile­stone,” she said, not­ing the “ex­cep­tional care” res­i­dents have and con­tinue to re­ceive.

Team ef­fort

Thomp­son de­scribed the R.K., which is home for 136 res­i­dents and em­ploys 265 peo­ple, as a “small hive of ac­tiv­ity within our larger com­mu­nity.”

“There is a tremen­dous amount of pro­duc­tiv­ity and work that oc­curs here on a daily ba­sis but, more im­por­tantly, there is a tremen­dous amount of care­giv­ing, mean­ing­ful re­la­tion­ships and kind­ness,” she said.

She noted the “ma­jor strength” of the home is its “ded­i­cated and hard­work­ing staff.”

“It takes a very spe­cial per­son to work in long-term care and the R.K. is blessed to have many of these peo­ple un­der their roof. Their ded­i­ca­tion and car­ing is wit­nessed daily through­out the halls of this home,” Thomp­son said.

She added thanks for the R.K.’S “won­der­ful and pow­er­ful” foun­da­tion, which spear­heads nu­mer­ous fundrais­ing ef­forts.

“We con­tinue to have the best equip­ment to care safely for the res­i­dents and the fa­cil­i­ties to en­hance the lives of the peo­ple in the home,” Thomp­son said.

There is also the “small and mighty” fam­ily coun­cil, which ad­vo­cates for res­i­dents and their fam­i­lies, for staff and the fa­cil­ity.

“We are grate­ful for our re­la­tion­ship with the coun­cil and for the ad­vise­ment they of­fer,” Thomp­son said.

She noted the thou­sands of vol­un­teer hours de­liv­ered from com­mu­nity mem­bers of all ages, ser­vice clubs and or­ga­ni­za­tions, which she said are “an es­sen­tial part of the fab­ric of this home.”

Strong com­mu­nity part­ners, she added, in­clude St. F.X., Arts Health Antigo­nish, NSHA and Car­a­van So­ci­ety.

“As you know it takes many hands and many minds to run a 24-7 op­er­a­tion,” Thomp­son said.

‘Car­ing and cur­ing’

Us­ing re­marks from a 1975 ad­dress he made to grad­u­ates of the R.K.’S per­sonal care worker pro­gram, with mod­i­fi­ca­tions made for the open house cel­e­bra­tion, Dr. Pa­trick Walsh spoke on the con­cepts of ‘car­ing and cur­ing,’ ones he said are “in­trin­si­cally linked.”

“There’s only a vowel dif­fer­ence but there is a big dif­fer­ence,” the re­tired St. F.X. English pro­fes­sor and former long-time R.K. nurs­ing home cor­po­ra­tion sec­re­tary said af­ter the for­mal cer­e­mony.

“Cur­ing never suc­ceeds – the need for it is in­fi­nite. Then you have car­ing – car­ing is fi­nite; it is hands-on, help­ing peo­ple. Car­ing is the thing that makes us hu­man.

“It is a shar­ing of love be­tween the peo­ple who are do­ing and the peo­ple who are re­ceiv­ing,” he added.

Walsh agreed the R.K. is a per­fect re­flec­tion of that gift of car­ing, de­scrib­ing ev­ery­one who con­trib­uted to its first 60 years, and beyond, as “real he­roes.”

“You are real he­roes be­cause you care,” he said.

‘Legacy of ex­cel­lence’

Speak­ing of ‘he­roes,’ Thomp­son ex­pressed her grat­i­tude for the R.K.’S res­i­dents.

“I am sure there is no prob­lem that has not al­ready been ex­pe­ri­enced or solved by at least one per­son liv­ing in this home,” she said.

The home is filled with laugh­ter, sto­ries, wis­dom, and pa­tience and the re­la­tion­ships formed here are those of the deep­est hu­man­ity.

“It is our priv­i­lege as staff mem­bers to work in your home and be here in ser­vice to you. We are grate­ful for your wis­dom, your coun­sel and your pa­tience,” Thomp­son added.

She also praised “the work of those who have come be­fore us and built the legacy of ex­cel­lence we con­tinue to em­u­late to­day.”

“We cel­e­brate 60 years of com­mu­nity in­volve­ment, gen­eros­ity and ex­cel­lence in car­ing; may the legacy of the R.K. con­tinue for many years,” Thomp­son said.

Corey Leblanc

Res­i­dent Lynn Mersereau vis­its with Michelle Thomp­son, R. K. Mac­don­ald Nurs­ing Home CEO, dur­ing an Oct. 3 open house cel­e­brat­ing the 60th an­niver­sary of the res­i­dence.

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