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Overburdened hospitals to transfer patients to long-term care homes

Last Updated Apr 15, 2021 at 5:24 pm EDT

Overburdened Ontario hospitals will begin transferring some patients to available beds in long-term care homes.

The Ministry of Long-Term Care and Ontario Health issued a written request to care facilities just days ago, asking them to “do everything they can over the next two weeks to safely admit or readmit hospitalized patients waiting for a space.”

The goal is to move at least 1,500 patients across the 626 long-term care homes in the province. Currently there are around 6,000 empty beds in the long-term care system.

This comes as the province sets a new single-day high with 4,736 COVID-19 cases on Thursday.

Long-term care facilities were the hotspots for outbreaks the first few months of the pandemic. However, with the majority of residents and staff now vaccinated, case numbers and deaths have plummeted.

As of April 5, there were only nine active cases among residents, compared to 1,650 cases on January 13, according to the Ontario Long-Term Care Association.

However, doctors and advocates are cautioning against the move and raising concerns around staffing.

“It’s a disaster waiting to happen,” Dr. Vivian Stamatopoulos said.

“Staffing has been decimated in long-term care homes. We still don’t have a minimum staffing standard in our long-term care homes,” said palliative care physician Dr. Amit Arya.

“You’re not going to get the quality of care that you get in hospitals, period,” Dr. Stamatopoulos noted.

The province has requested long-term care homes begin accepting two to three patients a week.

The Ministry says new admissions will not place people into spaces needed for isolation or into third and fourth beds in ward rooms.

The Ontario Long-Term Care Association has also requested that any patient coming in be vaccinated.