Province to take over a hard-hit long-term care home in Mississauga
At a May 27 press conference, Premier Doug Ford announced that the province will be taking over operations at the Camilla Care Community long-term care home in Mississauga.
"Now we’re taking further steps to protect our most vulnerable, effective immediately. We have begun the process of taking over management of five additional homes in the system that we are currently most concerned about. Those are Eatonville Care in Etobicoke, Hawthorne Place in North York, Altamont care in Scarborough, Orchard Villa in Pickering, Holland Christian—Grace Manor in Brampton and Camilla Care in Mississauga," Ford said.
Earlier this week, the province announced that local hospitals were asked temporarily manage River Glen Haven Nursing Home in Sutton and Downsview Long Term Care in North York for 90 days.
The move to take over more homes comes a day after the release of a damning report by the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) on the state of five homes in Ontario. While Camilla Care did not receive help from the CAF and is therefore not included in the report, the home has experienced a significant COVID-19 outbreak.
On May 26, Camilla Care announced that while the cases of 92 residents and 47 staff members who tested positive for COVID-19 and are now considered resolved, 29 residents are still battling the virus.
The home also said there are 13 staff members who have tested positive for COVID-19 who are self-isolating.
Sixty-one residents who lived in the facility have died of COVID-19.
The CAF report, which unveiled significant health and safety issues in Eatonville, Hawthorne Place, Orchard Villa, Altamount and Holland Christian—Grace Manor, prompted the federal government to announce plans to help Ontario correct long-standing issues in the system.
In the report, members of the military raised concerns about COVID-positive patients being allowed to wander the facilities, improper use of personal protective equipment amongst staff, misuse of medical equipment, cockroach infestations, cleanliness and more. The report also called out instances of negligence and abuse, alleging that residents were left in dirty diapers (or sometimes not bathed for extended periods of time) and moved and pulled aggressively by staff members.
The report also alleges that some residents were force-fed or fed while lying down, leading to coughing and choking.
"I will not shy away from the horrors we found. Everyone deserves to see what was happening because it’s the only way we’ll be able to bring these issues to light, but there’s gonna be accountability so that there can be justice," Ford said.
The government says it has begun an "active investigation" based on the report. To date, one death has been referred to the Office of the Chief Coroner for investigation.
Prior to the report being released, the province announced it will be launching an independent commission into Ontario’s long-term care system beginning in September.
"As soon as we received this report on Monday, we launched a full investigation and the results of our investigation will be turned over to the police," Ford said.
Ford said the province is deploying six teams of two inspectors to each of the five homes highlighted in the armed forces report, as well as Camilla Care. The premier said they will undertake "expanded and rigorous inspection and monitoring" of these homes for a period of two weeks.
Ford said the inspectors will conduct in-depth interviews with staff and residents, review charts and records and report back with their findings over the next 21 days.
"We will also conduct further inspections of the 13 other homes that are facing the greatest challenges in managing the outbreak," he said.
The COVID-19 crisis has shone a light on Canada's troubled long-term care system. According to Ontario's COVID-19 website, 1,352 long-term residents have died of the virus, meaning such residents account for well over 50 per cent of novel coronavirus fatalities.
Ford said that over the next 30 days, the Ministry of Long-Term Care will conduct random spot checks both of high-risk homes and other homes across the province.
"We’re fully prepared to take over more homes if necessary. We are fully prepared to pull licenses to shut down facilities if it is necessary. We will do whatever it takes for as long as it takes and that is why today I’m ordering officials to expedite the establishment of an independent commission similar to the SARS Commission," Ford said, adding that the commission should be established in July.
"We will get to the bottom of this as quickly as possible," Ford said.
With files from The Canadian Press
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