'This system is absolutely broken': New demands to revoke licenses of long-term care homes
KITCHENER -- A health-care watchdog is calling on the province to step in and revoke the licenses of long-term care homes that are dealing with a significant outbreak of COVID-19.
Forest Heights Revera, a private and for-profit facility in Kitchener, is currently one of the hardest hit homes.
There have been 44 deaths, with another 224 residents and staff members testing positive for the virus.
They make up almost 50% of the deaths in Waterloo Region and more than 25% of the total confirmed cases.
Public Health officials say they stepped in early last month.
“I have put in guidance that preceded the province, like testing everyone and guidance on having all staff mask themselves,” says Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang, the Medical Officer of Health for Waterloo Region. “I was seeing that things at Forest Heights Revera were not evolving at a rate that we were hoping.”
But the Ontario Health Coalition says, at the time, public health units across the province were also scrambling.
Prior to the pandemic, public health units were focused on dealing with recent cuts made to health care in the province.
“The public health units had to pivot completely to deal with the pandemic,” says Natalie Merah, from the Ontario Health Coalition. “For sure that has had a big impact on them and their preparedness and their ability to respond very quickly right at the very beginning.”
The coalition argues that the province needs to do more for homes like Forest Heights Revera.
“Those homes that have very serious outbreaks, they are not in control,” says Merah. “The province has the power to revoke the licenses and take them over. They should do that.”
Premier Doug Ford has acknowledged the difficulties, saying: “This system is absolutely broken.”
He's considering ways to get rid of troubled for-profit long-term care homes.
“We aren’t in the financial spot to fund the whole system,” he says. “But I’d love to sit down, and I’ve mentioned this to the Prime Minister. We need their support.”
For more on Waterloo Region's COVID-19 numbers, click here.