Bury resident Judy Thorneloe signs the petition to keep St. Paul’s Home open. “My mother-in-law, Violet Thorneloe, is in the Home, so it is close to our heart,” she said.
A petition to save the St. Paul’s Rest Home received at least 90 signatures in the first four days, said Lillian Statton at the General Store in Bury, where the petition is available for signing. The petition was started by Eddie Jacklin, Bury’s fire chief, on November 13.
Asked what motivated him, Jacklin said “For me it was my mother’s getting up in her years. She still lives alone. If she has to go to a home, it would be nice if she stayed in the town, where I could visit her regularly. I’m sure others feel the same.”
Jacklin said his aim is to let the St. Paul’s board of directors know people are concerned. He welcomes anyone to sign, both current and past residents of Bury.
The St. Paul’s Rest Home has been a not-for-profit residence for seniors since 1964. It is situated in a grand house at 592 Main Street, Bury, and is seen by many as an integral part of the community.
“I saw the petition at the store. I signed it,” said Bury’s Mayor Walter Dougherty. The Rest Home “creates employment, but it’s also a cultural icon in the town.”
“My grandmother stayed there. It’s always been there. It’d be a shame to lose it. I’m glad to see that somebody has stepped up, to show everybody that, yes, there is an interest in keeping it open.”
Jacklin said he hopes others will propose ideas for solving the problem that prompted the board to plan the closure of St. Paul’s on March 31, 2021. “They stated a lack of staff. I don’t know the nuts and bolts of it, but I would be willing to work with somebody to solve the problem.”
Ideas are being discussed, said Mayor Dougherty. Before the petition even started, he and Claudia Latulippe, the municipality’s new director general, “met with a couple of the board members to see if there wasn’t something maybe we could help them with, through recruitment or whatever.”
They have a draft proposal to be presented to the St. Paul’s board in the very near future. The proposal’s focus is on “obtaining a steady enough supply of employees,” he said, especially full-time workers, in a context of a shortage of health care workers throughout Quebec. He mentioned the possibility of using the municipality’s resources in communications, or calling for assistance from the Mégantic MNA, Mr. François Jacques.
Marilyn Salter, the president of the St. Paul’s board of directors, said she welcomes the community’s support that the petition demonstrates. “But it’s a desire, not a solution,” she said. “Certainly we don’t have the option of finding more staff. That’s the basic situation. It’s not changing.”
She noted that the board of directors has not yet received the petition or any proposals, and would respond to the community in writing at the appropriate moment.
“We need concrete solutions. And if somebody could help us to find them, I’d be more than delighted,” Salter said.”
“We haven’t given up yet,” said Mayor Dougherty. “We won’t just let it go easy.”