All senior care facilities to be inspected

By Matthew McCully

Quebec Premier Francois Legault said Monday that the government started inspections of public and private long-term care facilities following the deaths of 31 people at Residence Herron in Montreal and reports of seniors living in deplorable conditions amid the COVID-19 crisis.
Legault said inspections will continue until all 2,600 elder care facilities in the province, public and private, have been evaluated to ensure seniors are receiving proper care.
Insisting the majority are being well managed, Legault said there are five CHSLDs under super-vision at the moment.
For weeks the premier has been stressing the importance of protecting seniors, the most vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19. Following revelations about Residence Herron, now under government trusteeship, the spotlight is now on the level of care in general in public and private sector seniors’ residences and long-term care facilities.
At Residence Herron, 31 residents have died since March 13, five of whom tested positive for COVID-19. By the time public health officials intervened on March 29, the residence was basically deserted, many staff members having walked off the job.
During yesterday’s press briefing, Legault admitted that before the COVID-19 crisis there was already a shortage of personnel in CHSLDs and residences, claiming the low salary made it hard to attract employees.
Legault said it was a domino effect, and staff shortages contribute to challenging working conditions.
“Even if the situation is not perfect, in vast majority of cases,” Legault said patients are being properly cared for. Where the situation is critical, support is being provided, he said.
According to Legault, there are around 30 facilities across the province where more than 15 per cent of the residents are infected.
Reporters asked Legault if preventing visitors in seniors’ residences compounded the problem since caregivers and family members often help feed and attend to the needs of their loved ones.
“It’s not a black and white issue,” Legault said. Reducing the spread of the virus was the priority, he said, even if it did result in the loss of caregiver support.
During the briefing, Legault said certain job titles will be added to the list of essential services that can begin work, mainly related to home construction. Legault said public officials cleared contractors as long as they maintain social distancing protocols. The last thing the province wants to do is contribute to a housing shortage on top of the current crisis, Legault said.
As of yesterday, Télé-Québec began airing educational programming for kids of all age groups to promote learning while at home.
Legault said there were 32 new deaths in the last day, bringing the total in the province to 360.
There are currently 13, 577 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Quebec, up 711 from the day be-fore. Of those, 704 are in the Estrie region.
There are 879 hospitalizations across the province, and 226 people in intensive care.
According to the Quebec Public Health Institute’s website, there are 1.982 confirmed recoveries in the province to date.

Published in the Tuesday, April 14 edition of The Record.


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