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Deficiencies in the long-term care system are leading to preventable COVID-19 illness and death

As we continue to track the wave of COVID cases throughout Ontario, it has become evident that our elderly are the most affected group in our population.  Those residing in nursing, long-term care and retirement homes have become particularly vulnerable due to the challenges of controlling social distancing and imposing isolation in these facilities. Unfortunately, the shocking number of deaths and illness that have occurred in these facilities has also exposed the deficiencies in the systems responsible for the care of our elderly in Ontario.
Long-term care facilities contain special challenges for preventing the contraction and the spread of COVID.  Residents are living in shared rooms and buildings with numerous communal areas. Many facilities are now understaffed by overworked health care workers due to quarantined staff and vacant positions left by those who have resigned due to fear. Families are no longer visiting their loved ones and can no longer be involved and supplement their care.  This all results in an atmosphere, which without proper systems in place, is not adept to dealing with any kind of viral outbreak whether it be the flu or COVID.
The rising deaths of our elderly in long-term care homes this past month compelled the government to enlist the services of the military at specific homes.  The report released this week by the Brigadier-General Commander C.J.J. Mialowski of the Canadian Forces has reported disturbing conditions the military encountered in these homes.  It describes horrific conditions including abusive treatment of residents, poor infection control, inadequate personal protective equipment for staff, absence of disinfection, starvation of residents and general neglect. Based on this report, it is not surprising that the contagion and death rate has spiralled out of control in long-term care facilities.
Over the last several weeks, lawsuits against some long-term care homes and retirement homes have been started. Allegations of inadequate pre-emptive or responsive measures to COVID-19 have been made.  The Canadian Forces report makes startling claims about the ongoing issues within facilities which can only lead to further lawsuits.
If you have a loved one who’s injury or death was caused by the negligence of their nursing home, long-term care facility or retirement home, it is prudent to retain a personal injury lawyer to receive legal advice and to discuss your options.
Anandi Naipaul
Anandi Naipaul
P: 905.572.5820