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'A long way to go': Nurses' association calls for changes to health care system
KITCHENER -- One of the largest nursing associations in Ontario is calling for sweeping changes to the provincial health care system.
A report from the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario (RNAO) says the health care system needs an overhaul from being hospital-focused to comprehensive for all.
Dr. Veronique Boscart is a registered nurse who works at the Village of Winston Park, the latest long-term care home to declare an outbreak of COVID-19.
One resident at that facility has tested positive for the virus.
Boscart is the director for advancing seniors' care at Conestoga College, but when the pandemic hit, she immediately joined the front line at Village of Winston Park.
"It's where I really needed, I didn't really have to think about that," she reflects.
"The residents and the team could use some help, and so I felt that that was the right thing to do."
As of Tuesday, 12 long-term care and retirement homes in Waterloo Region were battling COVID-19 outbreaks. Seventeen outbreaks have been declared over so far.
Boscart says that, despite all her years of experience as a nurse and researcher, the pandemic has taught her new lessons.
"When you wear masks it becomes really difficult to communicate with older people, so I had to learn how to speak with my eyes," she explains.
Dr. Doris Grinspun is the CEO of the RNAO.
She says that senior care has a lot of room for improvement.
"They should have been the first that get the surgical masks. They should have been the first that get the testing," said Dr. Doris Grinspun, the CEO of the RNAO, during a presentation.
The report includes 13 recommendations, including integrating long-term care homes in Ontario's regional health teams so that they don't fall through the cracks of the province's health care system.
"We have a long way to go in valuing older people in our community, and therefore valuing those who work in the environments supporting seniors," Boscart says.
One of the region's hardest-hit long-term care homes is Forest Heights Revera.
On Tuesday, the region reported its only death at that facility, where 46 people have died from the virus.
The death toll in the region now stands at 104.