The crisis in congregate living environments, like long-term care, can be solved by following the strategies of nations which are more successful: aggressive testing of all residents and staff and the relocation of those with COVID-19 to specialized facilities, CUPE said today. A limited number of military personnel will bolster hospital staff now deployed in outbreak homes beginning this weekend.
“Once an outbreak takes hold, all the other residents are extremely vulnerable to this virus. The requirements that staff move from room to room wearing the same mask and gown for their entire shift also creates a glaring weakness in the infection control strategy,” says Candace Rennick, Secretary-Treasurer of CUPE Ontario. “The solution is not to pour in loaned military and hospital staff into long-term care to treat the COVID-19 positive residents, it is to remove residents so that the virus does not spread within the home.”
CUPE has consistently called for aggressive testing of all residents and staff in long-term care. “This is a key element in turning the dire situation in care homes across Ontario, around,” says Michael Hurley the President of CUPE’s Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU/CUPE). “We need to test, identify, and relocate. Our hospitals have the capacity now to receive these residents and can offer a higher level of infection control, nursing care, and access to a wide range of medical specialties. Only a stubborn resistance to providing long-term care residents with access to hospitalization is standing in the way.”
As of April 23: Ontario hospitals are operating at below 70 per cent capacity; 516 Ontario long-term care residents had died of COVID-19 and there were 2,191 cases in 135 homes.