TORONTO — The Ontario Medical Association says Ontario Premier Doug Ford must act immediately to end the humanitarian crisis ravaging Ontario’s long-term care homes before more of the province’s elderly and vulnerable residents get sick and die from COVID-19.
“We cannot allow this deplorable situation to continue one minute longer,” said Dr. Samantha Hill, president of the Ontario Medical Association. “The vaccine supply is beyond our control, but there are many other effective initiatives we must take immediately to safeguard our most vulnerable.”
The association is calling on the government to implement the following measures immediately:
- Provide paid sick days to all employees, including those in long-term care, so no one has to make the difficult decision whether to stay home if they have or suspect they have COVID-19 or feel obliged to go to work to earn money for food or rent.
- Hire and train more people to work in long-term care, and work with doctors to aggressively shift societal attitudes so that caring for older adults is considered to be one of the most important jobs in the world.
- Require long-term care homes to immediately implement a staff and visitor screening program that includes the rapid antigen test that detects people who are not yet showing symptoms of COVID-19.
- Give priority for COVID-19 vaccines to long-term care residents and health-care providers.
- Provide funding to ensure all long-term care staff receive adequate training in infection prevention and control, including the proper use of personal protective equipment, and that they have adequate supplies of PPE.
“Societies are judged by how they treat their elders and most vulnerable members,” said OMA CEO Allan O’Dette. “History will judge us poorly unless we all move quickly, within our areas of authority and expertise, to improve conditions in long-term care homes.”
Eight months after a horrific military report on long-term care facilities
This comes eight months after a Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) report showed the disturbing and horrific conditions within some of Ontario’s long-term care homes.
Troops were sent to various homes in April 2020 to provide logistical support as staff worked to contain outbreaks within the long-term care facilities.
Once within the homes, the Military officials became aware of many issues at the facilities including; poor infection control practices, the misuse of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), neglect of residents and even abusive treatment of residents by staff.
At Orchard Villa in Pickering, Ont. the military said that staff don’t always sit up residents before feeding or giving them medication — that practice appeared to contribute to the death of a patient.
In Etobicoke, Ont. at Eatonville Care Centre the military reported numerous instances of aggressive behaviour to management including “degrading or inappropriate comments” by staff and the “aggressive changing of incontinence products,” (otherwise known as a catheter or other means).
Some staff even reportedly continued and refused “to stop or slow when residents complained of pain.”
In the report, Brigadier-General C.J.J. Mialkowski systematically detailed the issues identified at various homes, which include Altamount Care Community in Scarborough, Hawthorne Place in North York and Holland Christian Homes’ Grace Manor in Brampton on top of those mentioned above.
Mialkowski said patients were sometimes observed crying for help without staff responding for upwards of two hours and some were even heard “audibly choking” through “forceful feeding” by staff, he described.
All this and much more was found in the report from the CAF, the full report can be found on the Canadian Military Family (cmfmag.ca). (Graphic Warning, it may be upsetting to read).
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