The Ontario government is extending the mandate of the panel dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks in long-term care homes.
On Thursday, Premier Doug Ford announced the extension of the Incident Management System Long-Term Care Table, which is composed of healthcare professionals who make immediate decisions to deal with issues related to staffing levels, infection management, and resources during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Ford said that the province is looking at immediate care for these homes and will figure out strategies for the next three months and then years to come.
“As premier, it’s my job to push the system. Fixing what we inherited starts with strong leadership through this crisis and beyond to protect and care for our long-term care residents,” Ford said.
“Today’s announcement demonstrates that we are making progress in fighting this terrible virus in our long-term care homes, and we will continue to do everything in our power to fortify the iron ring of protection around our most vulnerable seniors.”
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According to the province, in April, an Incident Management System (IMS) structure was established to coordinate operational support to long-term care homes.
The IMS table meets daily to organize efforts across multiple providers and government to make rapid decisions that support long-term care homes in need.
Homes identified for support are those struggling to control outbreaks, complete infection prevention and control assessments, ensure appropriate staffing levels, have access to personal protective equipment (PPE), and complete the testing of all long-term care home residents and staff.
“The Incident Management System Long-Term Care Table has been able to drive immediate decisions and resource deployment for urgent issues facing the sector, at a time when clear direction and communication is critical,” said Marilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care.
“I am incredibly grateful to know the government and our long-term care homes can continue to rely on their steady leadership and health system expertise.”
Under IMS leadership, Ontario has seen the increases of the number of low-risk green homes from 356 to 547 homes, representing 87.4% of all long-term care homes.
And, since May 1, there has been a reduction in the number of high-risk red homes from 35 to 19, a 54.3% improvement.
As of May 27, 37 hospitals had deployed teams into 59 yellow homes and 19 red homes.
Also, a second round of testing is already underway.
The IMS table also facilitated assistance from the Canadian Armed Forces into five homes and deployed 150 hospital teams to support staff in other long-term care homes.
On Tuesday, Ford said the province is investigating long-term care homes after reports from military members helping in long-term care homes showed “heartbreaking and horrific” concerns.
And on May 27, the provincial government said they are taking over five more long-term care homes that Ford is “most concerned” about and will perform “rigorous inspections” of 13 more homes over the next three weeks.
Fullerton confirmed that inspectors are now at five homes following military report issued this week.
The independent commissions has also been expedited and will now start in July instead of September 2020.
The premier said one of reasons he brought military in is because inspectors were not going into long-term care homes, as they were scared for their safety with the virus.