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Patient ombudsman launching separate probe into crisis in Ontario long-term care homes
The Eatonville Care Centre, where multiple deaths from COVID-19 have occurred, is shown in Toronto on Tuesday, April 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Published Tuesday, June 2, 2020 11:09AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, June 2, 2020 11:16AM EDT
The province's patient ombudsman’s office is launching its own investigation into the impact of COVID-19 outbreaks on residents and caregivers in Ontario long-term care homes.
News of the probe, which was announced Tuesday, comes one day after Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dubé confirmed that he would be looking into the province's handling of COVID-19 outbreaks in long-term care.
In a news release issued Tuesday, the office of the patient ombudsman, who investigates complaints about patient care in long-term care homes and public hospitals, said more than 100 complaints have been received about long-term care facilities since March.
"(The) patient ombudsman began monitoring the impact of COVID-19 on the experiences of patients, residents and caregivers when the pandemic was first declared. Complaints from residents, family members and whistleblowers pointed to a crisis in Ontario’s long-term care homes," the release read.
On April 26, a public appeal was issued for staff, family members, caregivers, and residents to come forward and disclose unsafe situations where residents and staff in long-term care facilities may be in "significant jeopardy."
The patient ombudsman's office says 150 complaints have been received since March and "that number continues to grow."
"We are committed to resolving these complaints and amplifying the voices of residents and caregivers as we learn from their experiences."
The two separate investigations were launched following the release of a Canadian Armed Forces report that outlined disturbing incidents of patient neglect and poor infection control protocols at five long-term care homes hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Operations at four of the five facilities have now been taken over by the province following the release of the military report.
While the Dubé’s investigation will focus on the oversight of the long-term care system by both the province's Ministry of Long-Term Care and Ministry of Health, the patient ombudsman will specifically review resident and caregiver experiences in homes with outbreaks of COVID-19.
The investigation will focus on staffing levels at homes, visitation restrictions, infection prevention and control procedures, and the communication of information.
“Our office would like to thank every resident, caregiver and staff person of a long-term care home for having the courage to come forward with their complaints," Craig Thompson, the executive director of the patient ombudsman's office, said in a written statement.
"We feel that this investigation will help long-term care homes prepare for future outbreaks of infectious diseases, including COVID-19."