| Sep 25, 2013

Twelve years ago, Ernest Lapchinski, a member of the Pine Meadow Nursing Home management committee, asked Kim Harvey, who was then the administrator of the home, what kind of project would be beneficial to the home.

Kim Harvey said that what Pine Meadow most needed was an upgrade. It was a B class facility and would provide an improved environment for residents and receive more operating funding if it was an A class facility.

Lapchinski drafted Bud Clayton, who at the time was a North Frontenac Council appointee to the Pine Meadow Management Board, to join him on the redevelopment committee. Kim Harvey and Donna Anderson, who had been integrally involved in the committee that worked on building Pine Meadow back in the early ’90s, also joined the committee.

Twelve years later, Kim Harvey has moved on from Pine Meadow and Donna Anderson has passed away; but Ernest Lapchinski and Bud Clayton have been waiting all summer for final confirmation from Infrastructure Ontario that a $5.5 million loan is in place and construction can get underway.

That confirmation came in an email last Thursday, and the contractors that have been waiting patiently since their bids were accepted months ago, will be on site this week to start work.

“The whole thing will be done in stages,” said Lapchinski. “The new construction will be the first stage, and then piece by piece the existing building will be worked on and brought to a higher standard.”

In the end the new Pine Meadow will have two 32-bed wings, and it will not have any four-bed dormitory style rooms. At this point the redevelopment is only slated to have the approval to house 60 residents, the same number as it houses now.

The changes will include revamped nursing stations, as well as community-oriented facilities for a physiotherapy clinic and a satellite renal dialysis clinic. In conjunction with the local family health team and a new ambulance base, Northbrook will be even more firmly established as a hub for medical service along the Highway 41 corridor.

But it has been anything but an easy road getting there, as Ernest Lapchinski can recall all too vividly. “We went to a lot of meetings and had a lot of promises made to us, only to see the approval fall through at the last minute several times."

One of the requirements for approval was a fundraising campaign aimed at raising $300,000 locally. “We had to show the province that we had local support, and we were able to do that,” said Lapchinski.

Major support came from the County of Lennox and Addington, which kicked in $25,000 per year for 10 years. The Land O’Lakes Lions have promised $5,000 per year for 10 years. These commitments, along with a host of private donors and fundraising events, have brought in a total of close to $400,000.

About a year ago the project was set to get underway but tenders for construction came in too high. This spring the tenders came in a little lower and everything was seemingly ready to go again, but the final approval from Infrastructure Ontario ended up being delayed.

“It turned out that they had not developed a template for funding this kind of project,” Lapchinski said.

That hurdle has finally been cleared now and it's all systems go.

A formal ground breaking ceremony will take place later in October.

Ernest Lapchinski and Bud Clayton are sure to have their hands on that silver shovel. Hopefully Kim Harvey will be on hand as well, and certainly a tear or two will be shed for Donna Anderson, whose efforts over the years will not be forgotten.

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