OHC concerned with rise in COVID-19 cases among long-term care residents and staff

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The Ontario Health Coalition (OHC) is concerned with the rise in the number of staff and residents of long-term care homes who have contracted the virus over the last week.

“Care workers at all levels and across the continuum of care are concerned for their safety, the safety of their families and the safety of their patients,” Natalie Mehra, executive director of the OHC, said in a news release.

“The spread of COVID-19 in the nursing homes is frightening for residents and their families and also for staff who are contracting the virus in increasing numbers. From hospitals to home care staff are also reporting that they are facing rigorous rationing of personal protective equipment (PPE). Care workers in multiple health care settings, long-term care residents and their families are upset and scared and want to know what concretely is being done to address their needs,” she continued.

Under the Province’s special emergency legislation recently passed to help Ontarians navigate the global pandemic, long-term care homes and hospitals have been allowed to bring in lesser trained or untrained staff and volunteers.

However, according to a report from the OHC, front-line long term care personal support workers (PSW), home administrators, PSW college course administrators, family councils and advocates, reported that this is the opposite of what they have been calling for.

“Obviously we are in a whole new level of crisis and we understand that more help is desperately needed. We are asking the Ontario government to tell Ontario health care staff exactly when more PPE is coming, and to commit to ensuring that staff are protected with N95 masks as they are calling for,” Mehra said.

“In addition, immediate action needs to be taken to support the long-term care workforce, not simply to deregulate and undermine the existing staff, but to get them into full-time work, improve their wages and conditions, and help the homes recruit more staff urgently. It is not enough to call them heroes. They need real support and protection and so do their patients,” she added.

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