A failing system and unanswered cries for help

di Priscilla Pajdo del 28 May 2020

TORONTO - Horrific, disgusting, appalling… all words to describe a nightmare. Premier Doug Ford used these same words to describe what was uncovered in the Military report on conditions in some Long-Term Care Homes (LTCH).

At the request of the province of Ontario, Canadian Armed Forces arrived at five LTCH on April 24. The homes that received this critical support were: Orchard Villa, Holland Christian Homes Grace Manor, Altamont Care Community, Eatonville Care Centre and Hawthorne Place Care Centre.

These seven homes in total required immediate intervention to assist with inadequate staffing, infection control issues and personal protective equipment (PPE) protocols essential for controlling the spread of Covid-19. It seems none of this is new, except in the detail.

We at the Corriere Canadese have been providing sometimes penetrating coverage of the Covid-19 crisis and its impact, globally and locally. We have identified the “hotspots” and provided graphics to illustrate the testing the tracing and the outcomes of isolation. But even we were unprepared for the debilitating, objective descriptions of how we have abandoned the sick, the infirm and the elderly.

There is an inescapable perception that society is in the process of a culture change that no longer has a place for our grandparents. It took a request for military help to make up a shortfall of frontline workers to raise the issue.

The Military Report contains details regarding the mistreatment of residents and poor living conditions in the above mentioned LTCH.

Skeptics will say it has happened before, but the details are truly as disturbing as they are heartbreaking.

Some findings include residents left in soiled diapers and/or not bathed for days; wounds not properly dressed; force-feeding to the point of choking; some not receiving the allotted three meals a day.

Lack of cleanliness was another finding. One home was found to be infested with cockroaches, ants, flies while another had rotten food left unremoved from tables and floors.

New staœ were not professionally trained, and, in some cases, staff were moving between infected patient rooms to uninfected rooms without changing out of contaminated PPE.

Covid-19 restrictions have separated families from their loved ones who are under the care and supervision of the owners/operators of these LTCH. What confidence can they have in the system given findings from this report?

This shocking report has opened the eyes of the public. It truly raises the question of accountability.

The Premier appears to have taken ownership of the situation in the Long-Term Care Sector. He says he has “inherited” a broken system and has vowed to do what it takes to fix it. So, what is the fix? In a news release May 25, the Province has implemented mandatory management orders.

Two hospitals have been appointed to manage two separate LTCH in order to help contain the spread of the virus. Downsview Long-Term Care centre will be managed by Humber River Hospital. Southlake Regional Health Centre will manage River Glen Haven Nursing Home. This Mandatory Management order will last for the next 90 days and possibly longer.

In Ontario, LTCH operate under license granted by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC).

These homes are partially funded by the province of Ontario, which sets rates and standards of service for LTCH. The Province is the Regulator. Has it been taking steps to supervise its own responsibilities?

The fact that these basic standards of service are not being met, in some cases – maybe too many cases - is appalling. It is unacceptable that cries for help by residents go unanswered.

Sadly, 1,352 of those Resident cries have been permanently silenced. Deaths in LTCH account for 63% of all those who succumbed to Covid-19 (2,155) in Ontario.

It is time for those who are accountable, be they government or private sector owners or management, to answer… for all who remain.

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