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Families Who Lost Loved Ones In Long Term Care During The Pandemic Urge The Government To Stop For-Profit Privatization

Posted: December 4, 2021

(December 3, 2021)

By: Pamela Vanmeer, Kawartha 411

June and her father George in happier times

KAWARTHA LAKES-“Last I saw and hugged my Dad was on Friday, March 13, 2020. I arrived at Orchard Villa after the dinner hour for our usual Father-Daughter Friday date night.  He loved music. I found him in bed singing by himself, “She will be coming around the mountain when she comes”.” June Morrison said at a press conference held by The Ontario Health Coalition, Durham Health Coalition, Kawartha Lakes Health Coalition and Northumberland Health Coalition on Thursday. 

Morrison’s 95 -year-old father George lived at Orchard Villa Long Term Care home in Pickering. Southbridge Care Homes owns Orchard Villa where 70 people died during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Morrison says on April 29th of last year she was on the premises of Orchard Villa and received a plastic sleeve with a memo tucked inside. That individual asked that she “take it to the media”.
That memo said in part:

“I truly believe that COVID-19 only had a small part in the deaths of all of these residents. The management waited too long prior to calling for help. The nursing home was very understaffed, causing residents to be neglected in all aspects of the care. Residents died of starvation and most especially dehydration.”

Morrison said she experienced some of these issues first-hand with her dads care.

“Case in point. Early on when Dad was in the Maple wing, I arrived at dinner hour to find his lips were sealed shut. He couldn’t speak. His dentures were double loaded with the denture liners. The glue spewed out and adhered to his skin and lips. Had I not shown up for his evening meal, he may have gone the entire day without a morsel of food etc. I questioned more than once the quality of care and service after finding him put to bed right after dinner many a Friday evening (Entertainment night), due to lack of staff being the reason,  especially in front of a long weekend.”

On Easter Sunday 2020 Morrison learned through a news article that two residents of the home had died and other were infected. When she was finally able to reach her dad by phone he pleaded for her to have him moved and the man in the next bed was coughing profusely.

“The son of the coughing man informed me that his father was negative from Saturday’s swab, but my gut feel told me different. I asked my younger brother to apprise the POA and arrange for Dad to be moved out of the room. Thursday night, the son informed me his father was upgraded to positive status and would die soon. Take note, that my family had been assured that Dad had already been moved into another room. Well, truth be told, that wasn’t truthful.”

Morrison got a call from Lakeridge Hospital on Sunday, May 3, 2020 at 7:09 am, saying her Dad was pronounced “gone”. That day she promised him that I would right the wrongs and tell his story.

“George William Morrison was diagnosed with COVID-19. Was dehydrated. Had a UTI and was noted as anorexic. He looked like a prisoner of war victim. My beloved Dad, aged 95, who at times was eight or 18 or in his 20s, feared death and wished he could live forever. He died without family surrounding him and holding him close.”

The home where Morrison’s father lived is in the running to get public funds to build new beds and 1,070 redeveloped beds—and she is outraged.

“It is our taxpayer dollars that are being discussed when Doug Ford speaks about awarding some very bad actors an additional 30-year licence and in the case of Orchard Villa, an increase of beds.”

According to a report released by the group of Ontario Health Coalitions called Public Money Private Profit: The Ford Government & the Privatization of the Next Generation of Ontario’s Long-Term Care the government plans allocate the majority of new beds announced recently to for-profit corporations and the majority of those to large chains such as the company the owns Orchard Villa, Southbridge.

“Southbridge has the highest pandemic death rate at 9 residents per 100. This compares
to average among for-profits of 3.6. Non-profits had a death rate of 2.8 while public
(municipal) homes had a death rate of 1.4.” says the report.

Extendicare has more than double the pandemic death rate of public (municipal) homes with a death rate of 3.6 residents per 100.6 according the coalition report and is slated for 1936 new beds.

Read the full report here:

Dorleen Lin whose parents both still live in long term care says these for-profit homes shouldn’t be paying out profits to shareholders when they should be investing in care for the residents after so many died. 

“They have conflicting interests, for-profit companies are willingly choosing to give money to shareholders rather than buying PPE and making sure residents have a proper standard of care.” she says. 

Many of the projects have not yet received final approval and the group is hoping to put pressure on the government to stop for-profit privatization.

“It is undeniable that Ontario’s Ford government is moving forward with new licenses and expansions covering tens of thousands of beds to the worst of the for-profit operators.” says the coalition.

“We all need to take a strong and united stand at saying NO to 4-profit homes and saying YES to long-term care homes of the future that are run by the municipality, and provincially funded and managed as a community program and public venture.”

They are urging residents to become involved and reach out to your local MPP’s, take part in demonstrations and share the stories of loved ones lost.

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