Newest data shows 7 ‘large outbreaks’ at Peel long-term-care and retirement homes
Posted: December 12, 2020
(December 11, 2020)
By: Sabrina Gamrot, Caledon Enterprise
Large outbreaks described as more than 10 people testing positive
The newest data from the Ontario Health Coalition (OHC) found seven long-term-care and retirement homes in the region are battling “large outbreaks,” where more than 10 people have tested positive for COVID-19.
The largest outbreak has been reported at Tyndall Retirement Village in Mississauga. According to the OHC’s numbers, which was last updated on Dec. 1, an outbreak at the home was declared on Nov. 5.
On Nov. 24, Tyndall had seen 81 residents and 57 staff members testing positive for COVID-19. At least seven deaths had been recorded since the outbreak was declared.
This is Tyndall’s second COVID-19 outbreak. In total, 26 residents at the home have died from COVID-19.
As of Dec. 1, 113 residents and 74 staff members have tested positive at Tyndall.
According to Natalie Mehra, executive director of the OHC, the reason behind these large outbreaks can be boiled down to the lack of direction from the provincial government.
As Mehra sees it, though some measures were announced to protect those in nursing homes this spring, they are partial, inadequate and rarely enforced.
One of the issues is a lack of staff, Mehra says, which was also a problem during the first wave of the pandemic.
Mehra points out that the Quebec and British Columbia governments created a massive recruitment strategy to bring staffers back into homes and centres months before the second wave occurred.
They also raised their wages, paid them for training and ensured they were provided with full-time work opportunities, Mehra says.
The workers were deployed into homes around six months before the second wave, resulting in a drastically lower rate of infections and deaths, explains Mehra.
However, in Ontario, nothing “substantive” has been done, she says.
What Mehra and her team are finding is that staff still don’t have enough proper protection equipment (PPE) to do their jobs and are working overtime.
“Once there are very large outbreaks, staffing crumbles. People just don’t get the care they need, yet there still remains no plan to get residents care in the homes or a plan to get the residents out of the home (and) into a field hospital to get them enough care while they are dying,” she says.
Mehra says this is the same situation that unfolded in homes during the first wave, except this time around, we are aware of how the virus operates and attacks.
On top of this, homes are not being held accountable for “perilously low staffing,” licenses have yet to be pulled from operators and fines are not being issued, says Mehra.
Without more government assistance, Mehra worries that deaths and infection rates will continue to rise.
The OHC is already seeing at least 1,000 new cases every week in homes across the province.
“It is hair-raising, it is shocking, its appalling,” she says. “I can’t find the words to describe our horror.”
Mehra contends the provincial government is acting in the interest of home operators, at the risk of residents and public interest.
As days go by without concrete action, more suffering and deaths will occur, she says.
“There is a role for government here. I think the situation underlies how negligent Ontario provincial’s government has been in response to this crisis,” she says.