Ontario’s patient ombudsman’s office says it is seeking whistleblower complaints from family members and staff at long-term care homes amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a release issued Monday, the office said the amount of complaints from both residents and workers from long-term care homes in Ontario signals a real crisis in the system.
Ontario health officials have stated previously that the province is currently fighting two different disease processes. One being the community spread of the virus, which seems to have peaked. The second being the virus spread in long-term care homes and other congregate settings, which seems to be continuing to increase.
On Thursday, the federal government approved the provincial government’s request for aid from the military in several long-term care homes in Ontario.
On Friday, forces were deployed at five homes; Orchard Villa in Pickering, Altamont Care Community in Scarborough, Eatonville in Etobicoke, Hawthorne Place in North York and at Holland Christian Homes’ Grace Manor in Brampton.
Some of the complaints issued have been about staffing shortages, infection control and prevention, the inability to meet the basic care of needs and either poor or no communication.
“These complaints will help inform our response to support the care of vulnerable long-term care home residents, including potential investigations,” said the release.
According to the Ministry of Long-Term Care on Monday, there have been 671 deaths reported among residents and patients in long-term care homes across Ontario, which is up by 17 deaths, and there are 150 outbreaks.
The ministry also indicated there are 2,523 confirmed cases among long-term care residents and 1,187 cases among staff.
The office said it proactively shares any information that it gets with the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Long-Term Care and Ontario Health.
“This is a frightening time for many patients, residents, families and caregivers,” said Craig Thompson, executive director of Ontario’s patient ombudsman. “Our goal is to learn as much as we can about how COVID-19 is affected residents and staff in long-term care homes.
“Our hope is to help long-term care homes with future pandemic planning — including additional and potential new waves of COVID-19.”
Anyone with information and/or a complaint is asked to contact the office at http://www.patientombudsman.ca or 1-888-321-0339.
As of Monday morning, Ontario reported a total of 14,856 coronavirus cases and 892 deaths.
—With files from The Canadian Press and Gabby Rodrigues
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