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Military heading to five GTA nursing homes hard hit with COVID outbreaks

Posted: April 26, 2020

(April 25, 2020)

By: Lois Kirkup, Postmedia, Ottawa Sun

A Pickering long-term care home where 40 residents have died during the COVID-19 pandemic will get military support along with four other hard-hit homes in the Greater Toronto Area.

The Ontario government says that in addition to sending military resources to Orchard Villa, personnel will be deployed to Altamont Care Community in Scarborough, Eatonville in Etobicoke, Hawthorne Place in North York and Holland Christian Homes’ Grace Manor in Brampton.

At the same time, Premier Doug Ford made an urgent request to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for more resources to halt the deadly spread of COVID-19 through the vulnerable population living in long-term care homes.

“They’ve been great by the way, they’ve been absolutely fabulous,” Ford said of the Trudeau government. “But we need more … Prime Minister, if you’re listening, I need your help on long-term care. We need funding.”

Trudeau on Friday described the situation in nursing homes across the country as unacceptable and troubling, and he assured all provinces that military support was available if needed.

Ontario Long-term care figures indicate 2,287 cases of COVID-19 among residents of long-term care with 573 lives lost.

Another 1,089 staff members of long-term care have tested positive and five have died.

The Ontario Health Coalition (OHC) says there are 80 facilities experiencing outbreaks of 10 or more patients and staff — 55 long-term care homes, 16 retirement homes, seven hospitals, one mental health and addictions facility and one congregate care setting.

The most severe outbreaks have depleted staffing levels.

Orchard Villa, for instance, posted on April 14 that it was hiring registered nurses, registered practical nurses, personal support workers, dietary aides and cooks.

April Beckett, Orchard Villa’s acting executive director, said in a message to families Thursday that 40 residents have died from complications related to COVID-19.

Seven staff and 27 residents of Orchard Villa’s retirement home have tested positive, and 59 staff and 104 residents in its long-term care are also positive.

Ontario public health numbers released Friday show the province has 13,519 confirmed cases of COVID-19, up 640 cases from the previous day’s report.

As well, 763 people have died after a one-day increase of 50 and a two-day increase of 104.

Public health officials say COVID-19 has cut two paths through Ontario with community spread believed to be peaking at relatively modest numbers, while the numbers in long-term care and similar facilities continue to grow.

Ontario Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Barbara Yaffe said public health officials remain very concerned about the spread of COVID-19 in long-term care. aartuso@postmedia.com

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