With the number of new COVID-19 cases hitting record highs seemingly every day, and Ontario’s modeling suggesting we could hit 6,000 cases per day by the end of January, the death count is projected to exceed that of the first wave.
As a result, Ontario’s doctors are urging the Province to implement additional measures to protect residents of long-term care facilities.
According to a news release from the Ontario Medical Association (OMA), residents of long-term care facilities make up 60 per cent of all deaths attributed to the virus.
Additionally, just in 2021, 198 residents and two staff members of long-term care facilities have died due to complications associated with the virus.
In order to mitigate the risk for this vulnerable group, the OMA is urging the Province to increase vaccinations for long-term care residents and caregivers, which includes health workers, personal support workers, other staff, and relatives who provide physical and mental health support.
Further, the OMA is calling on the Province to remove red tape preventing physicians from moving rapidly into long-term care homes with outbreaks or other significant needs, and continue to use virtual care in these facilities to prevent the spread of the virus and improve access to specialists.
The OMA believes the addition of a chief medical officer for long-term care for each Ontario Health region is necessary in order to ensure facilities across the Province are receiving the support they need, and are not being overlooked.
“The situation in our long-term care homes is dire and heartbreaking,” Samantha Hill, president of the OMA, said in the same release. “We appreciate the steps the government has taken and continues to take. But we all know more needs to be done and done quickly.”
Moreover, the OMA believes a culture shift is necessary, wherein Ontarians will see the importance and value of caring for the elderly.
“We can’t wait to take more steps now. We urge Premier Doug Ford to act on some of these much-needed recommendations right away. We all have a collective responsibility to ensure the safety and care for the most vulnerable in our society,” Allan O’Dette, CEO of the OMA, said in the release.