Ne­glect prime cause of care home prob­lems

The Standard (St. Catharines) - - Opinion -

Re: Re: Poor dis­in­fect­ing meth­ods and PPE use fuelling Ni­a­gara long-term care COVID-19 out­breaks: Hirji, April 23

For politi­cians to say the num­ber of deaths in long-term care fa­cil­i­ties is heart­break­ing im­plies they are not re­spon­si­ble for this sit­u­a­tion.

But any­one who has en­tered an LTC fa­cil­ity or a re­tire­ment fa­cil­ity knows they are, by their na­ture, death traps.

How many times in the course of any five-year pe­riod have LTCs had to go un­der lock­down be­cause of dis­ease (usu­ally the flu)? Re­mem­ber most of these fa­cil­i­ties are run as for-profit op­er­a­tions, funded by the On­tario govern­ment and by the res­i­dents.

To cut costs, the res­i­dents share fa­cil­i­ties — sit­ting ar­eas, en­ter­tain­ment ar­eas, eat­ing ar­eas etc. The older and less ex­pen­sive fa­cil­i­ties have shared rooms. They are gen­er­ally un­der­staffed and un­der­funded.

That is not to say the sup­port staff are not car­ing and com­pas­sion­ate in the ma­jor­ity of cases. Un­der nor­mal cir­cum­stances, the staff can get by. But un­der lock­downs, staff are stretched to break­ing. Add staff ill­ness and that means ad­di­tional short­cuts have to be taken.

Long-term care fa­cil­i­ties should be an ex­ten­sion of the pro­vin­cial health sys­tem, but with sep­a­rate fund­ing and ac­cess to emer­gency fund­ing. The oc­cu­pants are gen­er­ally no longer able to care for them­selves, or they have longterm ill­nesses, phys­i­cal and/or men­tal.

With about 50 per cent of all deaths from COVID-19 oc­cur­ring in LTC fa­cil­i­ties, the sit­u­a­tion in On­tario screams that the cause in not dis­ease, it is ne­glect. Bob Koruna St Catharines

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