KAWARTHA LAKES-The Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) has submitted its final reports and a host of recommendations to the Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission.
ONA is hopeful that in future the knowledge and clinical experiences of ONA and its front-line long-term care registered nurses will aid the Commission in its final report to government – and that government will act to improve the safety and care for residents and those who care for them.
ONA President Vicki McKenna, RN, notes that, “COVID-19 spread rapidly throughout long-term care homes in Ontario, which was entirely predictable and preventable. We have long known the weaknesses and shortcomings of these homes and ONA has been calling for change for more than two decades. ONA and its members also learned the lessons from SARS and believe they should have guided this province through the pandemic. Sadly, nurses’ voices were ignored, ONA’s voice was ignored, and thousands of long-term care residents and health-care workers paid the price. It is crucial to forge a new path forward.”
Executive summaries of ONA’s reports, as well as the full reports themselves, can be found here: https://www.ona.org/commission/.
McKenna notes that, “In the early days of 2020, ONA was concerned about this new virus and quickly contacted Minister of Health Christine Elliott and Minister of Long-Term Care Merrilee Fullerton. ONA advised government that the threat was serious and asked about the government’s plans to manage and contain it. The government had a simple response to ONA’s many valid concerns: ‘We are aware of the situation.’ Period. Since then, more than 3,700 residents in long-term care have died due to COVID-19. Hundreds of ONA members became ill, and we lost one of our own long-term care RN members to COVID-19.”
McKenna adds that ONA’s recommendations are informed by the experiences of its front-line long-term care members, who have recounted horrific stories. ONA continues to be optimistic that its submissions and reports will lead to positive changes and provide useful guidance to the Commission.
“COVID-19’s spread through long-term care homes was so foreseeable and preventable,” she says. “This is a sector that has cried out for meaningful reform for decades. Our residents and care providers deserve so much better.”
ONA is the union representing more than 68,000 registered nurses and health-care professionals, as well as more than 18,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.