Ontario LTC Minister Promises Changes After Hot Report on COVID-19 Response

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Ontario’s Minister of Long-Term Care, Merrielle Fullerton, speaks during a media availability on Monday May 3, 2021 at Queen’s Park in Toronto.

Chris Young / The Canadian Press

Ontario Long-Term Care Minister Marile Fullerton is promising to adopt several recommendations made by an independent commission that investigated the devastating effects of coronoviruses on the province’s nursing homes.

The commission’s 322-page report released on Friday evening said the government’s response to the epidemic was “slow, unsymmetrical and lacking urgency.”

The government had no epidemic plans before the virus hit the nursing home in the state in March 2020, and it failed the lessons learned during the first wave, resulting in more of the second wave during COIDID deaths. Was punished. The report stated that there were 19 more in nursing homes.

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“All the people affected by the tragedy, especially the residents, long-term care workers and their families, our government listens to you and we will do right by you,” Ms. Fullerton said at a news conference on Monday morning.

Ms. Fullerton said she urges every long-term care home operator to provide counseling services for residents and employees. The report stated that many of those living and working in long-term care homes during the epidemic would remain mentally traumatized and would require counseling and assistance.

While the number of COVID-19 infections in nursing homes has declined dramatically, with the majority of residents being vaccinated, they continue to struggle after the epidemic.

The report noted that many residents experienced what is known as “Confinement Syndrome”, resulting in confined to their rooms for extended periods of time without recreational events or visiting family.

Ms. Fullerton indicated that some of those restrictions are about to expire. “Changes are coming later this week that will improve the quality of life of residents and address their emotional well-being,” she said, without elaborating.

A three-member commission led by retired Associate Chief Justice Frank Maracco was established last July to investigate the spread of COVID-19 in long-term care homes, with an impact on residents, their families and employees Were included.

“The province’s long-term care homes, which had been neglected for decades by successive governments, were easy targets for uncontrolled outbreaks,” the report said.

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The report said the government had to work slow to respond to the crisis of long-term care on many fronts, including employees wearing face masks and banning them from working in a home.

“It takes time to coordinate,” Ms. Fullerton said. The speed at which the government moved added, “COVID-19 was not just a match for speed.”

The report cited several problems that were also highlighted in the provincial auditor’s report released last week. Auditor General Bonnie Lysk said the province did not protect the area of ​​care for a long time from the epidemic, and left sick without COVID-19, leaving homes without adequate measures to prevent the spread of pandemic infectious viruses. No crowded facilities to separate the residents. .

The auditor’s report said those failures contributed to the deaths of 3,760 residents as the virus spread to the state’s nursing homes during the first and second wave.

Ms. Fullerton reacted to both reports blaming previous governments for systemic problems, including a chronic staff shortage and a home built to outdated design standards, where many residents, along with three others, have a bedroom and bathroom Share.

Asked by journalists whether individual support workers could expect to be paid higher wages, Ms. Fullerton promised to do “everything possible” to ensure that she got the support she needed but questioned. Did not answer

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“We are fixing a broken system. We will continue to modernize the care sector for a long time which had been neglected for so many years, ”she said, before abruptly exiting the news conference.

In question hour on Monday, New Democrat leader Andrea Horwath said in the Independent Commission report that it was Premier Doug Ford’s government that stopped conducting annual inspections of every nursing home in 2018.

Ms. Horwath said, “It was the minister’s responsibility to protect our seniors in long-term care.” “She failed in that job.”

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