Daughter of long-term care resident says tests were done too late
Lindsay Chown and her mother are seen in this undated photograph. (Provided by Lindsay Chown)
TORONTO -- As COVID-19 spreads through dozens of Ontario’s long-term care homes, the daughter of a resident is calling on the province to ramp up testing of the disease on people living in the facilities.
Lindsay Chown’s 53-year-old mom, Cathy, has lived with Multiple Sclerosis for 34 years and lives at Triology Long-Term Care Residence in Toronto.
“They haven’t been tested yet, and I’m not sure why,” Chown said in a phone interview from her home in Aurora on Friday.
“I feel at this point the way things have progressed with all the deaths and the outbreaks in the long-term care homes, this should have been implemented weeks ago, ever since the deaths in B.C.”
As of April 2, the province reported 32 outbreaks at long-term care home in Ontario.
Ontario has also conducted fewer tests per capita compared to some other provinces.
Chown said her mom is in good health and is fully capable mentally. She said it’s not possible for her family to care for her mom outside of the home because she needs to use a lift. She said she’s lived at the home for seven years on a floor for younger residents.
Chown said testing is important to prevent an outbreak of COVID-19.
“If they had done initial testing early on, they may have found that one person tested person, they could have isolated that person, or used the proper personal protective equipment to ensure the nursing staff are not coming into contact with the residents,” she said.
“I feel we’ve just been really slow to act. We’re always one step behind, and how many people have to die in these homes or hospitals?”
Chown said her message to all government and health officials is to start testing everyone in long-term care homes.
“The nurses, the residents, anyone who has come into contact with the nursing home. This should have been done.”
New directive on testing on March 30
In a statement to CTV News Toronto Friday, Ontario’s Ministry of Long-Term Care said the province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health issued a directive on March 30 to long-term care homes.
“Testing must be conducted for COVID-19 on every symptomatic resident and staff in long-term care homes, including residents who are linked to a COVID-19 outbreak, and including recently deceased residents who were part of the outbreak but who were not previously tested,” the ministry said.
“The government is actively working with partners at all levels in the health care system to implement enhanced measures and supports to ensure that we are prepared to protect the health of our most vulnerable,” the statement also said.
Long-term care home implements ‘enhanced health monitoring’
Chartwell, the company that runs the long-term care home where Chown’s mother lives, told CTV News Toronto it doesn’t have control over how tests are administered or when results are received but does conduct active screening of its staff and essential visitors — including doing temperature checks twice a day.
“We have also implemented enhanced health monitoring of our residents,” said Sharon Ranalli, vice-president of marketing and communications.
“The safety and security of our staff and residents are a primary concern for us as is minimizing the risk of transmission. We remain vigilant in our efforts to manage this outbreak and thank our staff, residents and family members for their compliance and support of our efforts.”
“We continue to follow heightened COVID-19 infection control and screening protocols and all recommendations of the Chief Medical Officer of Health and Public Health.”
Backlog of tests cleared: Donnelly
Dr. Peter Donnelly, President and CEO of Public Health Ontario, said at a Friday afternoon news conference the backlog of tests in the province have been eliminated.
“That's important because it allows us to use tests in a very focused and strategic way for example testing patients in long-term care homes and their carers needs to be a priority as we have tragically seen if you get one case in a long-term care home. It is very easy for it to spread very quickly,” said Donnelly.
Chown said instead of playing catch up there should have been early prevention.
She has been talking with her mom a few times a day and said her mom is scared, and that at the moment residents are not allowed to leave the home.
“She’s feeling like a sitting duck, like it’s only a matter of time,” Chown said.
“I feel for the families that have gone through this.”