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‘Harsh light’ on problem; Groups see worrying trend of seniors ‘pushed’ into poor care

Posted: March 19, 2021

(March 18, 2021)

By: Elizabeth Payne, Ottawa Sun (Print Edition)

Critics are calling for a human rights inquiry, saying the transfer of elderly patients into retirement homes and converted hotels to free up hospital beds has become a worrying trend in Ontario.

Among facilities cited during a press conference by the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly, the Ontario Health Coalition and CUPE Wednesday was Ottawa’s recently opened transitional care unit at Greystone Village Retirement Home.

The facility in Old Ottawa East was about to open when the pandemic hit. Instead, it was transformed into a transitional care unit, overseen by Bruyère hospital and managed by a private company – Integrated Care Solutions, which is owned by Bayshore Health-Care.

Greystone has beds for 120 so-called alternate level of care patients.

When it opened last fall, Bruyère CEO Guy Chartrand said the kind of transitional care being offered in the facility is badly needed in Ottawa.

“These 120 beds will help alleviate some of the pressure on the health-care system and on our acute-care partners, while helping people access the care they need at a crucial time in their journey,” Chartrand said.

But the groups say it and other programs that target mainly the elderly offer a lower quality of privatized care.

They are now calling for an inquiry into elder discrimination in health care.

Jane Meadus, a lawyer with the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly, said such facilities fall into a kind of legal limbo because they aren’t regulated and have no standards of care.

“COVID-19 has shone a harsh light into treatment of the elderly in health care,” Meadus said. “This is not a new issue and it is not specific to COVID.”

In Ottawa, more than 30,000 people are waiting for long-term-care homes, some for as long as five years.

“Every bed is full in longterm-care homes. Every bed is full in hospitals. As a consequence, the elderly are pushed around to places that are not safe and do not provide adequate care,” said Natalie Mehra, who heads the Ontario Health Coalition.

Michael Hurley, who heads the Ontario Association of Hospital Unions, said a high proportion of long-term-care residents who died from COVID did so without being sent to hospital.

“Most died without having any access to palliative care, respiratory therapists, respirologists, any advantages of modern medicine,” he said.

“How could that happen?”

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