Seniors in LTCH paying the ultimate Covid-19 price

di Priscilla Pajdo del May 8, 2020

TORONTO - Covid-19 continues its unrelenting spread across our province. Latest numbers released by the Ministry of Health report a total of 18,722 cases in Ontario (May 6). This virus has mercilessly claimed the lives of 1,429 province wide.

Our serie’s focus is the on-going tragedy unfolding in Ontario's Long Term Care Homes (LTCH). Our seniors, whom we have entrusted to these homes have taken the brunt of this deadly virus. Covid-19 has claimed the lives of 1,074 Ontario residents in LTCH. That represents 73% of all deaths in Ontario.

In our previous coverage over this past week, we focused on the toll our seniors are paying in LTCH across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). The fi ve regions we covered were Halton, Peel, York, Durham and the City of Toronto.

Today, we round out our attention with a look to west end of Lake Ontario - an area that rounds out the GTA and moves into the Niagara frontier – the Hamilton-Niagara region. That, combined with the GTA, used to be commonly referred to as the "Golden Horseshoe", more recently as the GTHA or GTHNA to be more precise.

The "golden" referred to the wealth and prosperity of the region, "horseshoe" for the obvious crescent around the west end of Lake Ontario. Accuracy would normally demand that for reasons of economic impact we would include the municipalities of Southwestern Ontario as well.

For the purposes of our series, we restrict our focus to LTHC to the GTHNA referred to above.The fi nal two regions within this area are the Metropolitan Hamilton Area and Niagara Region. Hamilton, otherwise known as "Steeltown", largely because the steel industry has been such a large part of the history, the life, economy and physical environment of the area. Home to over 748,000 citizens, the city of Hamilton and its surrounding area (Burlington, Ancaster, Binbrook, Clappison's Corner, Dundas, Flamborough, Glanbrook and Waterdown) make up the Metropolitan Hamilton Area. The average annual income for the area is $94,327 (chart 1).

To date, there are three LTCH in outbreak, out of the 28 homes operating in the Hamilton area. While there are 15 Covid-19 resident cases, there are no confirmed deaths.

Moving to the south-east end of the "Golden Horseshoe" is Niagara Region. The Region (Niagara Falls, Port Colborne, St. Catharines, Thorold, Welland, Fort Erie, Grimsby, Lincoln, Niagara-on-the-Lak, Pelham, Wainfl eet and West Lincoln) with a population of 448,000, is largely known for agriculture and tourism. Average annual income is 81,141 (chart 2).

The virus has not spared the citizens living in Niagara Region, nor those in LTCH. Out of the 31 LTCH operating in the Region, 2 are in outbreak. It is in one of those homes that 16 residents have paid the fi nal price due to Covid-19. This represents 1.5% of all Ontario deaths in LTCH (chart 3).

The combined resident death count in LTCH is 719 across all the regions that make up the "golden horseshoe". Interestingly, these numbers bring down the total as a percentage of all deaths in Ontario LTCH attributable to Civid-19 to 67% of all.

Once again, a caution to our readers that the numbers are derived from reports released by the Ministry of Long Term Care and its protocol requirements for same from LTCH and public health units.

As in the UK, there appears to be a lag in transparency and reporting. That poses a question as to the timeliness and appropriateness of coping strategies.

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