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St. Michael’s Health Group’s 48-year Legacy Continues with Fenwyck Heights Opening

St. Michael’s Health Group’s 48-year Legacy Continues with Fenwyck Heights Opening

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Mel Snihurowych, SMHG Board Chair and John Kopeck, SMHG President & CEO. Photo by Rebecca Lippiatt.

St. Michael’s Health Group (SMHG), a registered charity and a contracted faith-based not-for-profit operator in the health care system, provides long-term care for seniors. Communities include St. Michael’s Grove Manor, Vegreville Manor, St. Michael’s Long-Term Care Centre and Millennium Pavilion. SMHG also manages four seniors’ apartments in Edmonton. Supportive projects and business ventures include Baba’s Own Ukrainian Foods (available in retail stores and online), the Family Health Centre (where doctors provide care to the community in NE Edmonton), Mobile X-Ray (available to book as needed) and rentable venue Heritage Hall. All proceeds go back into quality-of-life programs for residents and clients.

SMHG recently opened and is celebrating its newest community, Fenwyck Heights in Spruce Grove.

“SMHG was started by a small group of individuals within the Ukrainian community, led by Dr. Melety Snihurowych, with a vision to build a nursing home for seniors that provides holistic and quality care,” says, John Kopeck, president and CEO. “The goal was to provide care addressing physical, spiritual, cultural, emotional and intellectual needs. We are proud of our unwavering commitment of providing exceptional care tailored to meet the unique needs of our residents and ensure their well-being. Whether it is daily care, quality meals to support a healthy diet, education, information or recreational programming, we look at all aspects of how we can care for residents and support their families.”

The land was donated by the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy and funds were raised to build the first facility (St. Michael’s Long Term Care Centre). Their legacy continues as the Eparchy remains an integral supporter of St. Michael’s. Today Dr. Snihurowych’s son, Mel, is chair of the board of directors of St. Michael’s.
Mel Snihurowych shares, “SMHG has grown significantly since it was established, marked by the introduction of long-term care services in 1983, followed by the independent living sites in Edmonton, Spruce Grove and Vegreville over the next 20 years. The recent opening of Fenwyck Heights in Spruce Grove is a milestone and foundational to the next phase of our growth.”

“Fenwyck Heights, which is now welcoming residents, is the largest development in the history of SMHG,” says Kopeck of the 170-suite residence and $50+ million project, that provides much-needed housing and support services to the seniors of Spruce Grove and the surrounding area.

“We are incredibly proud of this project, acknowledging it would not have been possible without the support of the community and our valued partners. This project is also the beginning of a larger vision for senior care in Spruce Grove and the Parkland Region. Given this region has a tremendous need for a higher level of care, SMHG has invested in ensuring we can offer this care in an affordable and efficient manner. A Phase II of this project has been identified and we look forward to continuing to build our relationship with and in this community along with the support of our important partners like Synergy and S2 Architecture.”

Spruce Grove Mayor Jeff Acker is happy to note, “Its been a pleasure to collaborate with SMHG on this important development project for our community. The housing options and services offered in Fenwyck Heights are greatly needed in Spruce Grove and throughout the Tri-Municipal Region. These services provide our seniors with the dignity, respect, support and care they deserve as they age. This investment is not just a development project but a commitment to building a community that embodies the very essence of home.”

The care provided through SMHG is exceptional.

Kopeck is proud to say, “SMHG is proud of our strong guidelines, which we refer to as we care for seniors. Our culture is collaborative and is guided by teamwork, inclusivity, caring and faith. We firmly believe in community, excellence, integrity, accountability and engagement. These important terms and values define our organization.”

Snihurowych adds, “Knowing those who choose St. Michael’s are receiving the care they need and deserve is very rewarding and encourages the entire board to continue doing their important governance work.”

Ken Weisenburger can attest to this high level of care. He applied to Fenwyck Heights in March 2022 and moved in November 1, 2023.

Weisenburger was initially hesitant about the decision but now calls it “one of the best things I’ve done.”

“I am a very outgoing man and to come here I had to leave a population of 3,600 – and I knew about 3,500 of them!” says Weisenburger. I was active in the community and did a lot of charity work but my boy had been after me for 10 years to move into a care home.”

After finally making the move, Weisenburger couldn’t be happier.
“There are about 60 people living here so far,” he continues, “and I know almost all of them. The staff is incredibly helpful. The food is excellent! The serving staff come around asking if you got enough to eat and they are happy to give you more. The front-end staff is very knowledgeable. You can talk to them anytime.”

Weisenburger’s social life is as active as ever.

“After supper, we play cards. There is also shuffleboard. I’m a past pool player and now I go to the Pioneer Centre to play pool three times a week. We play crib there too. Fenwyck Heights recently brought on an activity coordinator and the list of activities for the month looks really good. I also exercise in the gym.”

He admits, “Since Fenwyck Heights just opened there are some ups and downs; it’s a learning process and that is to be expected. However, it is one of the best moves I’ve made in a long time. That is quite a feat for me to say as I had to leave being surrounded by acquaintances, family and friends.”

For seniors considering making the move, Weisenburger says, “Come see Fenwyck Heights. Do a tour, meet the staff and learn what is going on. We are a friendly group and we will say hello and welcome!”

SMHG aims to provide this experience for all seniors and as Alberta’s population ages, Kopeck knows there is a growing need for compassionate elder care.

“Safe, compassionate elder care is vital not only in Edmonton but everywhere. The well-being and security of our elderly population is paramount. Providing a safe environment ensures seniors can age with dignity and with peace of mind. Compassionate care contributes to the emotional and mental health of our seniors. It fosters a sense of belonging and understanding, addressing not only their physical needs but also their emotional and social well-being. As an organization, St. Michael’s believes that in preserving community values, elder care fosters a culture of care and inclusivity for our aging demographic,” he says.
Since beginning the process with Accreditation Canada, SMHG has consistently been accredited at the highest of standards, most recently having achieved Accreditation with Commendation.

“Receiving Accreditation with Commendation means a care home has not only met the essential standards in quality and safety but they have also demonstrated excellence and noteworthy achievements in areas such as patient care, leadership, and governance,” says Snihurowych. “This recognition reflects our commitment to providing high-quality care and a dedication to continuous improvement. It also serves as a valuable guide for individuals and families seeking assurance of quality when choosing senior care for their loved ones.”

Additionally, staff members have been recognized by the Alberta Continuing Care Association as Care Provider of the Year for providing exemplary care and volunteers have received Minister and community awards for their commitment and service.

Snihurowych says, “We thank the Friends of St. Michael’s Society of Edmonton (FOSMSOE) who have been integral to our growth, quality of care provided and financial stability. They provide volunteer support at our sites and raise funds for much needed equipment, new care technology, recreational outings and much more. We also thank our group of almost 300 dedicated volunteers.”

Kopeck concludes, “We are planning to continue growing while still providing the kind of care we take pride in.”

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