long-term care homes

New report shows alarming rate of infection in senior care facilities

Friday, April 24, 2020

The Ontario Health Coalition released a 70-page report tracking 1,127 confirmed staff, 1,936 residents and 720 unspecified individuals for a total of 3,783 positive COVID-19 cases within senior care facilities across the province. The tracking began on March 19 when the first outbreaks in Ontario long-term care homes first became public.

According to the dire new findings, 3,783 confirmed cases in healthcare settings represent almost a third (30.9 per cent) of the total reported for Ontario up to the afternoon of April 21. Sadly, 435 deaths have occurred among residents and staff at these facilities.

“The spread in healthcare and congregate care settings continues to widen at an alarming pace,” said Natalie Mehra, Executive Director at the Coalition. “The outbreaks in hospitals continue to increase in number but, according to publicly available information, they appear to be contained more quickly and effectively than those in long-term care, retirement homes and congregate care/living settings. Since our last tracking report on April 7, while the number of outbreaks has risen significantly, the number of patients/residents in healthcare settings and the number of healthcare workers infected have increased exponentially. Tragically, the number of deaths that we have been able to find from outbreaks in healthcare settings has increased almost five-fold since April 7.”

Retirement residences, home to more able-bodied seniors, are also seeing infections rise at an alarming rate. The report cites 562 confirmed cases in 69 retirement homes: 367 among residents; 131 among staff; and 64 unspecified.

“We are tracking the outbreaks to ensure that there is public scrutiny and the clearest possible picture of the extent of the spread of COVID-19 in healthcare settings even as public health measures and access to PPE improve. Clearly, measures have been too slow and continue to be inadequate, particularly in long-term care and other congregate living and senior care settings,” she reported. “We can create a picture of the spread with the numbers, but the real human toll of these outbreaks is beyond words.”

The Ontario Health Coalition represents more than 500,000 Ontarians and more than 400 organizations who are concerned citizens, patient advocates, seniors, unions, family councils, residents, patients, doctors, nurses and health professions. Its mandate is to protect and improve public health care for all under the principles of the Canada Health Act.

The full report can be found here.

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