The commission says Ontario LTC homes failed to take action ahead of deadly second COVID-19 wave in surveys


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Arrival is welcomed by workers in full personal protective equipment at Whitby’s SunBeast Nursing Home on December 9, 2020.

Frank Gunn / The Canadian Press

The Ontario Ministry of Long-Term Care sent a survey to every nursing home in the state last summer asking if they had measures in place to prevent the spread of highly contagious coronaviruses and adequate staff to care for residents .

The self-assessments were supposed to help the region withstand the anticipated second wave of the epidemic. But the ministry did not follow homes identified as high risk or share the survey results with anyone, including local public-health officials, self-bureaucrats responsible for inspecting hospitals and facilities.

The government ultimately failed to take lessons from the first wave of COVID-19, a report by the Independent Commission ending in long-term care. And the results were disastrous. Long-term care residents in Ontario died in the second wave compared to the first – in one government area the virus did not allow stubborn and lethal foothold, but one to two times, the resentment of this.

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The 322-page report on the pandemic released Friday evening said the government’s response to the pandemic was “slow, non-coordinated and lacking in urgency.” “The province’s long-term care homes, which had been neglected for decades by successive governments, were easy targets for uncontrolled outbreaks.”

Three commissioners, led by retired Associate Chief Justice Frank Maracco, have stated in their report that Ontario, the wealthier province of the sophisticated health system, should have learned a lesson from the early days of the epidemic. As a result, his report states, it was reasonable to expect that the second wave would be less punishment. “That was not the case.”

This report sheds light on one example, the Sunniest Nursing Home in Whiteby, east of Toronto, to show that the elderly continue to die at “alarming rates” from March 14 until March 14 when the second wave ended. The virus has killed 3,758 residents and 11 employees in nursing homes.

The report said that Sunniture was identified as a high-risk home in a ministry survey last summer.

Medical Officer of Health for the Durham Region, Robert Kyle, said in an interview Sunday that he does not remember receiving the results of the survey. He said that public-health units and hospitals played a much larger role in managing the outbreak of nursing homes than in the ministry.

“It’s a bit of mystery why we weren’t in the loop,” Dr. Kyle said.

A spokesman for the ministry, Rob McMahon, said in an e-mail Sunday that the results of the survey helped the government finalize plans for its COVID-19 preparations. He did not explain why the ministry does not share the survey results with others.

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In Sunnycrest, Drs. Kyle declared an outbreak of COVID-19 last November 23 and sent employees home from Lakeridge Health four days later. Hospital staff faced a catastrophic situation: home workers did not know how to properly place and carry personal protective equipment; There was no identification of which residents were sick with the virus; And there was no infection prevention and control protocol at home – its IPAC was sick with lead virus.

One of the 119 residents of the house tested positive for COVID-19, killing 34 people. The victims include Violet Lorraine Anderson, who died alone in her room on December 30, her daughter told the commission.

Diane Anderson Campbell said her mother suffers from dementia, but recognizes her loved ones and can walk on her own until she becomes ill with the virus.

To avoid confusing and harassing her mother, Ms. Anderson Campbell said her family made the “heart-wrenching” decision to stop telephoning her. “We were not on the phone, on video, or in person when he passed,” she said.

Ms. Anderson Campbell is in long-term care among dozens of family members, residents and staff who testified, providing a first-hand oral history of loneliness, suffering, and fear that marked, for them, the history of Ontario forever. “Says the report.

The report states that many of those living and working in long-term care homes during the epidemic will remain mentally traumatized and will require counseling and support.

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Many residents experienced what is known as “confinement syndrome” as a result of being confined to their rooms for extended periods of time without recreational events or visiting family, the report said.

The commissioners gave the last word to a group of nursing home residents on 1 April. Wilbert said that he has not had a hot meal in his home since the epidemic began. “One week, we had nothing but sandwiches,” he said.

Judy recalls her two granddaughters, 4 and 6 “They don’t understand why I can’t come out with them and hug them to play and kiss and kiss them,” she said.

Ethel waited eight months to get a wheelchair and had not had her hairdresser since the epidemic began. “Maybe you don’t think it’s important, but for a woman, it is,” she said. “A hairdo gives you a new lease on life.”

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