Ontario's doctors call on government to act to end crisis in long-term care homes
TORONTO, Jan. 21, 2021 /CNW/ - Ontario's doctors called on Premier Doug Ford today to take urgent action to end the growing health and humanitarian crisis in the province's long-term care homes.
The Ontario Medical Association said the government could take two immediate steps to help ease the crisis, in which there are COVID outbreaks in 254 long-term care homes, including one in Barrie involving a new variant.
- Provide paid sick days to all workers, including those in long-term care homes, so they can stay home if they have or suspect they have COVID rather than feel they must go to work to earn money for food or rent.
- Use rapid antigen tests on everyone living in, working in or visiting long-term care homes to enable them to turn away anyone who may have COVID-19 but is not yet showing symptoms.
"There are too many cases of COVID and too many deaths in long-term care homes to say we are managing this well enough," said Dr. Samantha Hill, president of the Ontario Medical Association. "There are some things we can't control, such as vaccine supplies. But we have an ethical, scientific and fiscal duty to use the tools within our control, including rapid testing and paid sick days."
Long-term care residents have accounted for two-thirds of all COVID deaths in Ontario since the pandemic began, including 60 between Friday and Tuesday alone, bringing the total to 3,239. Ten LTC workers have also died since the pandemic began.
The OMA also urges the government to continue making LTC residents and staff the priority for vaccines and implement the recommendations doctors made last week to improve conditions in LTC, including:
- cutting the red tape preventing physicians from moving rapidly into long-term care homes with outbreaks or other significant needs
- continuing the use of virtual care to prevent the spread of the virus and improve access to specialists.
- appointing a chief medical officer for long-term care for each Ontario Health region
- shifting social attitudes so that caring for frail older adults is considered to be one of the most important jobs in the world.
"Ontario's doctors appreciate that the government is working to address both the immediate COVID-related challenges and the longer-term systemic issues," said OMA CEO Allan O'Dette. "Neither can wait. Caring for our elderly must be an urgent priority for our province. Ontario's doctors stand at the ready to lead the needed changes."
About the OMA
The Ontario Medical Association represents Ontario's 43,000-plus physicians, medical students and retired physicians, advocating for and supporting doctors while strengthening the leadership role of doctors in caring for patients. Our vision is to be the trusted voice in transforming Ontario's health-care system.
SOURCE Ontario Medical Association