The number of COVID-19 deaths in Ontario’s nursing homes doesn’t tell the whole story of the devastating impacts of the pandemic on long-term care residents.
Military reports obtained by The Globe and Mail depict just how deplorable conditions were inside Downsview Long Term Care Centre and Hawthorne Place Care Centre in North York, before military teams arrived to provide care.
At Downsview, 65 residents died of COVID, but the documents reveal another 26 died from dehydration, before military teams arrived.
At Hawthorne Place, 51 residents died from COVID-19 complications, but the documents also say those deaths pale in comparison to other causes of death, like malnutrition and dehydration.
The military eventually stepped in to help at seven LTC facilities where COVID outbreaks left staffing levels too low to cope.
An independent commission found the Ford government’s response to the pandemic in LTC homes was slow, unorganized, and lacking in urgency.
Premier Doug Ford defended Minister of Long-Term Care Merrilee Fullerton last week amid calls for her resignation following the scathing report.
Ford says he takes ultimate responsibility for the tragedies in long-term care and promised to fix the system.
The province announced last week it is loosening pandemic restrictions placed on long-term care homes as vaccination rates rise.
The new rules will now mean homes can safely resume communal dining, indoor events and gatherings.
The province says once the current stay-at-home order is lifted, it will issue further direction that allows social and temporary outings for fully vaccinated residents.