Ontario woman takes husband out of long-term care home despite knowing he may lose his bed
TORONTO -- An Ontario woman says she was told that her husband may lose his spot in his long-term care home because she brought him home to ride out the COVID-19 pandemic.
Frank Carlucci has been a resident of Dufferin Oaks long-term care home since late 2016 after he sustained a brain injury. After learning that two staff members tested positive for COVID-19 on March 31, Carlucci’s wife thought the risks of him staying at the home outweighed the benefits.
“You’re scared, you’re scared, because everybody’s saying they’re not even sure how anyone’s getting it,” Barbara Heuman told CTV News Toronto Friday afternoon.
Heuman decided to bring her husband back to her rural property in Shelburne, Ont., due to her concerns about the novel coronavirus.
“My concerns are — he no longer has a doctor. His doctor took care of him for three-and-a-half years while he was at Dufferin Oaks, but I was told they are no longer able to take care of him. So when they sent me home from Dufferin Oaks yesterday, I got one week’s medication, that’s it,” she said.
Heuman added that while she knows her husband is safer at home, she doesn’t know if she’ll be able to care for him permanently given his medical condition.
She also said she’s been told that he may never be able to return to Dufferin Oaks.
“They did tell me, at the time, if I took him out he would lose his bed.”
The Canadian Association for Retired Persons (CARP) says that Ontario’s own guidelines clearly allow patients to take an extended medical absence — without threat of discharge — for up to 30 days.
“Even in the absence of the 30-day guideline, homes should not punish residents for wanting to leave temporarily because they’re concerned about their health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially when 70 per cent of deaths in Ontario have been in LTC and retirement homes,” CARP Chief Policy Officer Marissa Lennox said.
Heuman says that fact was never mentioned to her, although, 30 days wouldn’t have been long enough given the pandemic.
“My thought is, no matter how careful they are, there will be community spread, and there will be a lot of deaths in nursing homes. There already are and there will be many, many more.”
CTV News Toronto reached out to the long-term care facility, but as of late Friday, did not receive a response.
However, in a statement late Friday afternoon, Ontario Minister of Long-Term Care Dr. Merrilee Fullerton said that residents who leave a long-term care home temporarily during the outbreak will not be permitted to return “to prevent them from being exposed to COVID-19.”
“During an outbreak, all admissions and re-admissions are stopped.”
The minister went on to say that once a home is cleared of an outbreak and it is safe to return, a resident’s readmission “would be expedited.”
She added that residents who leave a home that does not have an outbreak would be “prioritized” for readmission.
The Dufferin County clerk confirmed that all short-stay leaves for long-term care residents in Ontario have been cancelled.
"In order to take a resident home, we’ve been directed that the resident must be discharged and that priority will be given to them for readmission when they reapply."