Ontario taking further action to protect seniors and staff in long-term care homes amid COVID-19 outbreak
At a May 28 press conference, Ontario Premier Doug Ford discussed additional measures to help cope with the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and further addressed the serious allegations made in a recent report released by the Canadian Armed Forces.
Today’s announcement was made by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care.
Last month, Ontario Premier Doug Ford sought out military assistance for five long-term care homes in the province with COVID-19 outbreaks.
The military report by the Canadian Armed Forces, which Ford called "extremely troubling," contained disturbing allegations against the five long-term care homes.
The five long-term care homes in the report included Holland Christian Homes (Grace Manor) in Brampton, Orchard Villa in Pickering, Altamont Care Community in Scarborough, Eatonville Care Centre in Etobicoke and Hawthorne Place in North York.
Some allegations in the report included placing patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 with patients who are uninfected and aggressive feeding that led to residents choking.
At a press conference yesterday, Ford stated that the government would be taking further steps to protect the province’s most vulnerable effective immediately and had begun the process of taking over the management of five additional homes in the system with the most concerns.
The additional homes include Eatonville Care Centre in Etobicoke, Hawthorne Place Care Centre in North York, Altamont Care Community in Scarborough, Orchard Villa Retirement Residence in Pickering and Camilla Care Community in Mississauga.
Today (May 28), the government announced that it is extending the mandate of the Incident Management System Long-Term Care Table to further protect seniors and staff in long-term care homes.
This table is made up of health care professionals who make immediate decisions to help deal with issues related to staffing levels, infection management and resources during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As Premier, it’s my job to push the system. Fixing what we inherited starts with strong leadership through this crisis and beyond to protect and care for our long-term care residents,” said Premier Ford in today’s conference.
“Today’s announcement demonstrates that we are making progress in fighting this terrible virus in our long-term care homes and we will continue to do everything in our power to fortify the iron ring of protection around our most vulnerable seniors.”
Back in April, an Incident Management System (IMS) structure was established to coordinate support to long-term care homes.
The IMS table meets on a daily basis to organize efforts across multiple providers and government to make fast decisions that support the long-term care homes in need.
Homes that are identified for support are those struggling to control outbreaks, complete infection prevention and control assessments, ensure appropriate staffing levels, have access to personal protective equipment (PPE) and complete the testing of all long-term care home residents and staff.
“The Incident Management System Long-Term Care Table has been able to drive immediate decisions and resource deployment for urgent issues facing the sector, at a time when clear direction and communication is critical,” said Minister Fullerton.
“I am incredibly grateful to know the government and our long-term care homes can continue to rely on their steady leadership and health system expertise.”
Under IMS leadership, Ontario has seen improvements to long-term care homes affected by COVID-19 outbreaks including an increase in the number of low-risk green homes from 356 to 547 homes, representing 87.4% of all long-term care homes and a reduced number of high-risk red homes from 35 to 19, a 54.3% improvement since May 1.
Since May 27, 37 hospitals have also deployed teams into 59 yellow homes and 19 red homes.
More improvements include the completed testing of long-term care residents and staff, with a second round of testing underway and a decreased number of COVID-19 positive tests in long-term care homes from 12.5% to 7.5%.
As of May 28, 129 out of 626 long-term care homes are in active outbreak, from a high of 190 on May 18.
Additionally, a total of 164 outbreaks have been resolved.
The IMS table also facilitated assistance from the Canadian Armed Forces into five homes and deployed 150 hospital teams to support staff in other long-term care homes.
Standard infection prevention and control guidelines have been issued to all homes and a regular data reporting structure has been set in place for long-term care home assessment and testing under their leadership.
Leadership of the IMS includes Deputy Minister Richard Steele, Ministry of Long-Term Care, Deputy Minister Helen Angus, Ministry of Health, Dr. Kevin Smith, President and CEO, University Health Network, Matthew Anderson, President and CEO, Ontario Health, Michelle DiEmanuele, President and CEO, Trillium Health Partners, Dr. Jack Kitts, President and CEO, The Ottawa Hospital, James Schlegel, President and CEO, Schlegel Health Care, Dr. Tom Stewart, President and CEO, St. Joseph’s Health System, and CEO, Niagara Health, Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Ontario and Dr. Dirk Huyer, Chief Coroner of Ontario.
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