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Currently Browsing: The Ottawa Citizen

We need help: Home care in Ontario – the lynchpin of the health system – faces a staffing crisis

Elizabeth Payne, The Ottawa Citizen

Thousands of nurses have left jobs providing home care during the pandemic for better-paid work in public health, hospitals and long-term care homes. The result is a crisis that home care officials warn could jeopardize the province’s entire health system. “We need help. We are in a crisis,” said Sue VanderBent, CEO of Home Care Ontario, which represents most home care providers in Ontario. During the pandemic, money was poured into long-term care and hospitals to help retain and increase staffing. Many of those workers came from home care, which has received no additional support from the province during the pandemic, said VanderBent. Home care officials say it is not surprising workers are opting to go elsewhere where they can earn between $6 to $15 more an hour. But the funding in home care has not kept up. Home Care Ontario says additional funding is needed urgently to keep the crucial home care system running so hospitals can begin catching up on surgeries and people in need of care can get it.

Read the rest here:
https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/we-need-help-home-care-in-ontario-the-lynchpin-of-the-health-system-faces-a-staffing-crisis

Province looking at toughening long-term care enforcement as part of revamp

Elizabeth Payne, The Ottawa Citizen

The Ontario government is considering adding former police or security officers to its inspection teams and toughening enforcement as part of its plan to improve accountability in long-term care, according to sources. The province has signalled it will bring in legislative and other changes this fall to answer recommendations and calls to improve Ontario’s beleaguered long-term care system.

Read the rest here:
https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/province-looking-at-toughening-long-term-care-enforcement-as-part-of-revamphttps://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/province-looking-at-toughening-long-term-care-enforcement-as-part-of-revamp

Three vaccinated long-term care residents die after contracting COVID-19 variant

Elizabeth Payne, The Ottawa Citizen

Three fully vaccinated residents of an Ottawa long-term care home have died of COVID-19 in recent weeks, the company that operates the long-term care home has confirmed. “We are saddened to confirm that three residents at Extendicare Medex recently passed away,” said Extendicare spokesperson Laura Gallant. Since the COVID-19 vaccination rollout began, deaths in long-term care homes have plummeted dramatically. The vast majority of long-term care residents across the province have received two doses. Research done by Public Health Ontario between Dec. 14, 2020, and April 17, 2021, found no so-called “breakthrough” deaths among people who had been fully vaccinated in Ontario. Breakthrough refers to infections after complete vaccination.

Read the rest here:
https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/three-vaccinated-long-term-care-residents-die-after-contracting-covid-19-variant

Ontario’s COVID deaths in long-term care were predictable, but no one acted to prevent them

Brigitte Pellerin, The Ottawa Citizen

Government officials look us in the eye and tell us nobody is more important than our elders — but don’t mean it.

It’s amazing to realize it has taken a pandemic, thousands of deaths and a comprehensive commission report to tell us that treating humans like products from which to make a profit is a terrible idea. Prioritizing the economy over people hurts both, whereas putting people at the centre of care, as the Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission report recommends, benefits both. If only we could have thought of that by ourselves.

The commission report, which came out late last Friday, makes for horrendous reading. Having followed along and read all the transcripts since September, I had a good idea what it would contain. Be honest now: Is there anything in there that surprises you?

The human tragedy that has gripped the province’s long-term care sector and is still making residents’ lives miserable more than a year later — Ontario is just now starting to lift some of the confinement restrictions where long-term care residents are vaccinated — was entirely predictable, predicted, and not at all prevented. Because we consistently refused to put people ahead of economic considerations. 

The worst indictment from the report isn’t the low staff levels or the old buildings where people share bathrooms or the abuse we occasionally hear about. The worst indictment is the fact that everyone who should have known, knew in March 2020 that they needed to prevent long-term care staff from working in more than one home and needed to make masks mandatory. That evidence was crystal-clear and in jurisdictions that took those actions at that time the number of COVID-19 deaths in long-term care was much lower.

The Long-Term Care Commission report notes that the majority of long-term care residents who died in the first wave contracted COVID-19 between late March and late April 2020. How many lives would have been saved if the government had acted earlier? If masks and restricting all staff to one home had been implemented a month earlier, how many would have been spared the agony of suffocating to death?

Read the rest here:
https://ottawacitizen.com/opinion/pellerin-ontarios-covid-deaths-in-long-term-care-were-predictable-but-no-one-acted-to-prevent-them

Fullerton vows to “do right” by LTC staff and residents after the release of a damning final report

Taylor Blewett, The Ottawa Citizen

Ontario minister Merrilee Fullerton vowed to “do right” by long-term care staff and residents after the release of a damning final report by a commission that probed the devastating spread of COVID-19 through Ontario long-term care homes. Fullerton, the minister for long-term care, said in a Monday press conference that the suffering experienced by LTC staff, residents, and their families would not be in vain, and committed to making long-term care a better place for residents to live and staff to work. She has yet to announce in any detail new measures being implemented in response to the commission’s recommendations. In its 322-page report, the commission said the province failed to learn from the SARS epidemic of 2003, that the LTC sector was completely unprepared for the pandemic, and long-festering challenges (underfunding, staffing shortages, out-of-date infrastructure, inadequate oversight) played a part in COVID-19 deaths in long-term care homes. To date, 3,760 LTC residents and 11 staff have lost their lives to the disease.

Read the rest here:
https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/covid-19-fullerton-vows-to-do-right-by-ltc-staff-residents-after-damning-report-ontario-reports-3436-new-cases

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