Apr 15, 2020
By Christine Ross
Saying this is the “fight of our lives” and history will judge us during a time of crisis, Premier Doug Ford has announced more aggressive testing and screening at long term care homes. But not all staff and residents will be tested. It applies to symptomatic staff and residents as well as asymptomatic contacts of confirmed COVID-19 patients. Asymptomatic patients in select homes will also be tested. These new screening guidelines do not apply to group homes like Participation House in Markham, where one resident has died after an outbreak of COVID-19. Minister of Long-Term care Merrilee Fullerton was unable to explain why only a handful of homes received routine inspections last year, saying the province moved to a ‘risk based’ inspection system. She also clarified the rules around removing a loved one from a home during the pandemic saying “Their beds will not be lost, they’ll be put on a priority list.”
Premier Doug Ford hinted his government may overhaul the long term care system after the pandemic ends. Saying his government needs to be transparent about the ‘many cracks’ in the system, Ford hinted he may launch a public inquiry. Meantime, Ontario’s emergency order limiting long-term care employees to one facility only takes effect next Wednesday and runs for 14 days.