As deaths from COVID-19 increase in long-term care homes, families demand more timely information


People who have relationships in some long-term care properties in Ontario are demanding solutions regarding unclear communication about the course of COVID-19 infections in these amenities.

Ontario has 106 long-term care facilities with COVID-19 outbreaks, or about one in six facilities across the province. However, it is not always possible to know how many circumstances of the new coronvairus have been confirmed among the many workers and residents of each residence.

Eileen De Villa, Toronto’s chief medical officer of health, acknowledged that frightened families and the general public deserved information soon and said that her staff were striving to take action.

“I know it’s not always as fast or as detailed as you want,” she said during the city’s TV briefing on Thursday. “Know that we are doing everything we can to keep you informed.”

Some of Ontario’s 34 public health articles refuse to provide information on the variety of circumstances and the diversity of deaths in each establishment where the outbreak was reported. Some public welfare articles cite privacy guidelines, others say that disclosure is the responsibility of each residence.

Lena Mitchell, center, a 94-year-old resident of the Eatonville Care Center in Toronto, is surrounded by her daughters Jacqueline, on the left, and Helen, and her son Dexter, in a photo taken earlier than the COVID-19a pandemic. closed capacity to guests. (Submitted by Jacqueline Mitchell)

Meanwhile, some long-term care facilities have been slow to notify families of the outbreaks, or refuse to disclose if a resident in a shared room has a confirmed case, on the grounds that it violates the privacy rights of the person. contaminated in particular.

This is the scenario that Jaqueline Mitchell faced, whose 94-year-old mother Lena Mitchell is in a twin bedroom at the Eatonville Care Center, west of Toronto. His COVID-19 balance sheet reached 31, more than any other long-term care facility in the province.

In late March, Mitchell discovered on the Toronto Public Health website that the house had a case of COVID-19. She spoke to a member of the workers who, according to Mitchell, revealed that the residents also had circumstances, but did not want to indicate if her mother’s roommate was among them.

“As the days go on, we can’t hear anything, so I just figured everything was fine there,” she said this week in a CBC radio interview. Metro Morning.

As of April 1, Eatonville reported only one confirmed case involving a worker member. As of April 12, there were 14 unnecessary residents.

Mitchell discovered the death in what she calls a “wonderful” cell phone message sent to resident relations by the government’s director of the home.

Dr. Eileen de Villa, a medical officer of health for the City of Toronto, says her staff strive to provide timely information on COVID-19 outbreaks and deaths in long-term care facilities. (Rozenn Nicolle / Radio-Canada)

“I never knew people were dying,” said Mitchell. “It was just unbelievable that suddenly this information was just dropped in the middle of my supper. “

Government Director Evelyn MacDonald later apologized to the families for the registered name.

Everyone in the house is currently being tested for COVID-19. As of Friday, the Toronto Public Health Unit reported 111 constructive circumstances among residents and workers.

“We expect to receive additional test results in the coming days and, as always, we will personally call the families of all residents who are COVID-19 positive.” MacDonald said in an announcement on Friday.

Increasing death, increased anxiety

The sudden revelation of deaths last weekend in Eatonville illustrates the difficulty of growing concern over the relationships between residents of long-term care facilities in Ontario, who are also eagerly awaiting expression. additional circumstances.

Paul Gilbert is a resident of Bowmanville, Ontario, whose mother lives in Ajax, at the long-term care home in Winbourne Park, the location of an outbreak. Gilbert mentioned a house official who knew him quickly {whom a} worker member had examined constructively for COVID-19. He now hopes that everyone in the facility – with signs or not – will be examined quickly.

“Does our mother come into contact with other residents or staff members who are already infected but no one knows? Gilbert asked in an interview this week.

” We do not know. “

In York Region – where 13 long-term care facilities have COVID-19 outbreaks – the welfare unit of the general public simply does not publicly disclose the variety of confirmed circumstances or deaths in each they.

He left Markham’s mayor, Frank Scarpitti, to be the official source of dying figures in the properties of his metropolis, via his Twitter feed.

York Region Public Health fulfills its obligation to report COVID-19 cases to the province’s database, but decides how to communicate this information to the general public, said Patrick Casey, director of communications for the company

“The way we report may be different than other health units,” said Casey in an announcement Friday evening. “Public health in York Region continues to be open and transparent with respect to the release of this COVID-19 information to members of the media and the public.”

In the Niagara region, where 26 people have died with confirmed circumstances from COVID-19, the public welfare unit may decline to indicate the location of the deaths.

“We are providing the total number of deaths in Niagara,” said Meredith Maxwell, Niagara region public health communications supervisor, in an email to CBC News.

“However, we rely on the long-term care home or the retirement home to share details on the number of cases or deaths.”

By distinction, Toronto Public Health provides daily updates on the variety of circumstances and deaths at each long-term care facility in the city.

A physicist is far from the Eatonville health center. (Carlos Osorio / Reuters)

Under provincial regulations, directors of long-term care facilities are required to report all outbreaks of communicable diseases reminiscent of COVID-19 to the Aboriginal medical officer of health, while physicians and nurses are required to report any associated deaths.

Local public welfare items (PHUs) are then required to report any confirmed circumstances of the illness. However, there is no provincial requirement for the degree of material to be made public.

“Each public health unit is accountable to its own health council, not the Ministry of Health or the Chief Medical Officer of Health. As such, each of the USPs will make decisions about their public reporting, “said Hayley Chazan, director of media relations for Minister of Health Christine Elliott, in an email to CBC News on Friday.


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