Handicapped to be refused COVID-19 care?

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A document that left people with disabilities “scared” of being denied an intensive care bed or ventilator during the COVID-19 pandemic is only a draft, “said Ontario Minister of Health , Christine Elliott.

The clinical triage protocol for a major COVID pandemic outbreak – a copy obtained by the Toronto Sun dated March 28 is not stamped with the word “draft” – establishes guidelines for health professionals as a “last resort” when allocating vital resources in the event of a shortage.

Lawyers say document weighs unfairly on quality of life for people with disabilities in violation of their human rights, and has left many fearful of not receiving the same level of care as everyone else .

“A person’s disability should absolutely never be used as a criterion for deciding whether they get the health care they absolutely need,” said David Lepofsky, President of the AODA Alliance on Tuesday. “And certainly the subjective vision of a doctor, a nurse or an EMT on the quality of life with a handicap – compared to the quality of life of a person living with a handicap – should never be a factor in these decisions. “

Advocates for people with disabilities plan to issue an open letter to the Ontario government on Wednesday to protest.

Elliott acknowledged the document’s existence on Tuesday, but said it has yet to be subject to a final government review.

“I know some people with disabilities have expressed concerns that they will be interrupted if we get to this point,” said Elliott. “I would never let that happen. People with disabilities are treated the same as everyone else, as they should be. “

This type of document, which provides advice on who should receive advanced survival care, would only come into effect if all else failed, she said.

Robert Lattanzio, executive director of ARCH Disability Law Center, said the document provides three levels of triage for health care providers based on demand and resources.

Using the “frailty scale”, the framework not only sees who would benefit the most from care, but also invites health professionals to take into account factors such as the quality of life of people with disabilities, a he declared.

“This is where we cross a line that we cannot cross,” he said.

Lattanzio said he was unaware that the protocol was currently in place, but he had heard from members of the disability community knowing this and “scared” that they will not get the care they need they go to the hospital.

“There is an increased sense of fear in the midst of everything that is going on,” said Lattanzio. “All of our lives are turned upside down, but for our communities, for people with disabilities, they are fighting for their lives.”

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