According to a recent report from the province’s auditor general, Ontario’s long-term care system and the ministry that manages it was not “prepared or trained” to deal with the slew of problems brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk’s study on pandemic preparation and response in long-term care, by the time the novel coronavirus began ravaging Ontario’s long-term care homes in March 2020, it was clear that “intensive infection prevention, diagnosis, and patient care actions were required and needed quickly to avoid staggering death rates” in the LTC community.
That was not the case. On March 17 of last year, the first cases of COVID-19 were discovered in four LTC households. 76 percent of LTC homes in Ontario registered cases of COVID-19 among residents and workers from March 2020 to the end of the year.
As of April 28, the province’s long-term care system had lost 3,756 seniors and 11 employees.
“Despite the fact that vaccines have helped to dramatically reduce COVID-19 outbreaks and deaths in long-term care homes,” Lysyk wrote, “there is a need to keep decision-makers attention concentrated on what needs to improve, given the long-standing existence of these problems and the threats of serious outcomes.”
Lysyk said in an online press conference Wednesday afternoon that the province’s and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams’ directives to the sector were vague.
“The [chief medical officer of health] should have offered more transparency and guidance,” she said. “Inadvertently, their behavior confused matters.”
According to the study, three major issues led the industry down such a disastrous path. You can read the whole thing at the bottom of this page.
The first is that, despite detailed recommendations from an advisory panel following the 2003 SARS outbreak, not enough was done to plan for “next time.”