Deer Lodge Centre’s community of caring

Ryan McBride

When you hear the name Deer Lodge Centre, you probably think of aging military veterans in long-term care. And you wouldn’t be wrong. Deer Lodge started out as a convalescent home for First World War vets and still maintains 140 priority access beds for veterans as part of an agreement with Veterans Affairs Canada.

Broad range of health services is delivered with unbounded care at Deer Lodge Centre.

But you may not know the degree to which Deer Lodge Centre has adapted its programs and services to meet the needs of the broader community – not just veterans – over the past 100 years.

“People who walk in here are often surprised by how much we really do, how much we offer,” says Gordon Fardoe, executive director of the Deer Lodge Centre Foundation.

For instance, Deer Lodge provides rehabilitation services, mental health outreach programs, a day hospital and adult day care for cognitively impaired community clients. It’s also home to a pulmonary rehabilitation program for people suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other lung diseases.

The operational stress injuries clinic located at the centre serves Canadian Forces members and veterans, members of the RCMP and their families who are dealing with extreme stress or trauma.

And the centre’s movement disorders clinic provides a multidisciplinary approach to treating people living with Parkinson’s disease, Tourette’s syndrome and more.

“We’ve initiated each of these services in response to community need,” Gordon says.

Many of these services, he adds, are available to patients of all ages. “We provide a lot of care to young adults through our chronic care and communications disorders programs.”

Historically, Deer Lodge has achieved many milestones in medical care, including the first documented account of wheelchair sports anywhere in Canada. The first dialysis machine in western Canada was built and operated here, as was the first geriatric pharmacology research unit and geriatric day hospital. The centre began pioneering innovative orthopedic surgical techniques the moment it opened – and hasn’t stopped.

Gordon, who has been with the Deer Lodge Centre Foundation for 10 years, says what moves him most is the sense of family that binds patients, residents and staff into a community.

“Our staff work so hard and care so much for everyone who comes through those doors. They really get to know the residents and the patients. That makes a profound difference in the lives of those who need us most.”

Deer Lodge has come a long way in a hundred years.

Ryan McBride is Communications Coordinator at the Deer Lodge Centre Foundation.

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