Long-term care facilities in Peel “dealing with very dangerous terrain”

Startling statistics from health officials regarding COVID-19 deaths in Ontario have revealed that 114 of the 274 deaths have been connected to long term care facilities and the trend is increasing across Canada. Quebec and Ontario have been hit the hardest, with the largest outbreak in Ontario at the Pinecrest Nursing Home in Bobcaygeon, where 28 residents have died recently.

National attention shifted to long-term care facilities when Prime Minister Trudeau stated during a media conference last week that “the uncomfortable and tragic truth is that the very places that care for our elderly are the most vulnerable to COVID-19.”

Ontario Premier Doug Ford followed later in the week saying that “the reality is, despite our best efforts, we’re dealing with a wildfire at our long-term care homes right now.” The Premier issued an order that staff working in long term care facilities will be restricted to working only in one facility.

Recently in Brampton, Holland Christian Homes confirmed a COVID-19 outbreak after 16 residents and four staff members tested positive and a short time later sent out an urgent request for PPEs (Personal Protective Equipment). Schlegel Villages, which operates a long term care and retirement village in Brampton also announced three more people have died of COVID-19 at its Mississauga facilities.

April 18 Update: Peel Region Chair Nando Iannicca recently confirmed a COVID-19-related death in a Brampton long-term care centre, saying he is “devastated today to learn that a person living in the Region of Peel’s Peel Manor Long Term Care Centre has passed away due to complications related to COVID-19.”

During Mayor Patrick Brown’s Wednesday morning COVID-19 update, he responded to a question concerning the steps the city and Peel Public Health are doing to monitor and deal with long term care facilities, saying that “we are dealing with very dangerous terrain”. In a video interview recently, the Mayor also said he was worried about his 105 year old grandmother.

With 60% of long term care workers employed at multiple facilities, and a provincial mandate restricting workers to just one facility next week, the potential staffing shortages caused by the provincial mandate still has to be addressed. Many of those workers rely on multiple shifts at different facilities to make ends meet.

In spite of the gains made across the country to “flatten the curve” this battleground at long-term care and seniors facilities could severely hamper any kind of early recovery. Long term care facilities are filled with the vulnerable and they could be a ticking time bomb. Peel Public Health and the municipalities in Peel are working to ensure infections and deaths don’t lead to more horrific statistics. Will it be enough?

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