Sunday, 24 October, 2021

Ontario's long-term care minister to respond to COVID-19 commission report Monday

Final Commission report says Ontario has no plans to eradicate the epidemic or protect long-term care residents “There was no plan,” LTC COVID-19 commission say Ontario was not prepared
Ginger Lawrence | 03 May, 2021, 18:53

It cited shortage of personal protective equipment, lack of adequate testing, improper cohorting of infected and non-infected residents as well as a general failure to recognize the risks posed by COVID-19 identified by other jurisdictions in the months before the pandemic arrived in Ontario.

Almost 4,000 long-term care residents and 11 staff have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic hit.

"As Ontario continues to respond to the pandemic, it must remain our priority and focus at this time", Donna Duncan said in a statement, pointing to the work long-term care homes are doing to alleviate strain on hospitals.

"They are all involved in building infrastructure that is prepaid by private investors who receive returns on their capital at a profit over time. However, others actually operate the infrastructure - the courts, hospitals, etc. - once built", the report said.

Then, the Commission advises, a purpose-oriented organization - whether it is public, for-profit or for-profit - will handle the care of residents. Our almost 400 members are located across the province and include not-for-profit, charitable, and municipal long-term care homes, seniors' housing, assisted living in supportive housing and community service agencies.

The report even calls out Dr. David Williams, the Chief Medical Officer of Health, for his delay in ordering universal masking.

"There's no question that residents and staff at long-term care homes and their families were disproportionally impacted by COVID-19", Fullerton said in the statement.

The province was reluctant to acknowledge that community outbreaks were taking place, that asymptomatic patients could spread the virus, and that masks would be helpful when it came to prevention.

The report adds that despite warnings from experts, "there was no plan to protect residents in long-term care".

At least 27 dead in fire at Baghdad Covid hospital
People look on at Ibn Khatib hospital after a fire caused by an oxygen tank explosion in Baghdad , Iraq , April 25, 2021. Firefighters rushed to put out the flames and evacuate patients at the Ibn al-Khatib hospital in the Iraqi capital.

Ontario launched the commission on May 19, 2020, in an effort to determine what went wrong in long-term care homes during the pandemic's first wave.

Additionally, the Commission's call to promote and fund person-centred models of care, as well as increase care hours provided by allied health professionals above what is now being planned by the province, will go a long way to improve the quality of resident care. In one home, 50 per cent of staff were on a floor, forcing them to transfer between positive COVID-19 units and non-COVID-19 units.

They have already released two sets of interim recommendations.

Military leaders who organized a deployment into long-term care homes also gave testimony, detailing the circumstances surrounding the mission that led to a damning report on conditions inside the facilities.

The commission, headed by High Court Associate Chief Justice Frank Morocco, asked long-term care residents, staff and management.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said there are 1,050 new cases in Toronto, 819 in Peel Region, 286 in York Region, 158 in Ottawa and 157 in Durham Region.

Barrows gave the commission credit for not "pulling any punches" in the report - and ensuring people like her grandmother are not forgotten in death, as they seemed to be in their last months of life.

The head of the Ontario Long-Term Care Association, meanwhile, said the report is a step in the "journey to reimagine seniors' care".

"What happened in our long-term care homes, it was tragic", he said.