May 19, 2024
The COVID-19 nursing home crisis wasn't 'unimaginable.' It was predicted, then ignored
Ontario, in particular, denied its public health officials the most basic tools necessary to defeat the coronavirus.
Ontario, in particular, denied its public health officials the most basic tools necessary to defeat the coronavirus.

When it comes time for the official post-COVID-19 inquiries, and I think several are called for, it’s fair to predict the situation in nursing and long-term care homes will leave the starkest impression. The Pinecrest Nursing Home in Bobcaygeon, Ont. was the first to come to widespread public attention thanks to a harrowing report in The Globe and Mail. “Equipment everywhere. An eerie silence broken only by the sound of TVs, the coughing of residents and the shuffling of workers in protective masks, gowns and gloves. Patients with dementia had slipped into a kind of ‘fugue state,’” a nurse there reported. COVID-19-positive residents shared rooms with healthy ones, she said, because there was nowhere else to put them.

Later we learned of far more horrifying conditions at Résidence Herron in Dorval, Que., after police and public health officials arrived in search of a resident who had tested positive and found staff had abandoned their posts. “There were (two) patients who were dead in their beds,” a source told the Montreal Gazette. “There were patients who had fallen on the floor. There were patients who hadn’t had any basic care for a number of days, diapers that hadn’t been changed for three or four days, excrement that was covering their skin and patients who hadn’t been fed.”

Between those two nursing homes alone, at last count, 59 Canadians have died from COVID-19.

The death tolls certainly aren’t unique to this country. And we have heard of similarly gruesome scenes in other countries — though mostly countries with much higher infection rates than ours, like Spain and the United States. On Thursday, Hans Henri Kluge, the World Health Organization’s European director, said “up to half” of cases on that continent were residents of long-term care facilities. He called it “an unimaginable human tragedy.”

In Ontario the figure is 70 per cent. In Quebec, it’s 80 per cent.

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See Also:

(1) Not even a pandemic can break bad government habits

(2) New Normal: How COVID-19 could change Canada’s grocery landscape forever

(3) Coronavirus: Amid lockdowns, Aylmer church and police clash over drive-in service

(4) Ford talks about re-opening the economy

(5) Ontario government must finally fix long-term care system