Families deserve answers after fighting to get loved ones into hospital


Family after family with a loved one in long-term care has reported being urged not to transfer a sick loved one to a hospital during the pandemic — and they deserve to know why, and that it will never happen to another family again, said NDP Leader Andrea Horwath.

“We have heard from anguished daughters and sons who say their parent needed to be in the hospital, but their long-term care home tried to prevent that from happening – whether by urging them not to, dismissing their request, or outright lying about their options,” said Horwath. “These families were already scared for their loved ones. It’s unthinkable that care may have been denied, or delayed, because of the actions of private long-term care homes.

“A full, independent judicial public inquiry is needed to lay bare how this happened, but Premier Doug Ford need to assure families that this isn’t still happening right now, and will never, ever happen again.”

On Wednesday, Horwath spoke with Tanya Coons, a nurse, former PSW and daughter of River Glen Haven resident Dorothy. While COVID-19 was ravaging Riven Glen Haven, Dorothy developed a urinary tract infection, and wasn’t recovering after a course of antibiotics. When Coons asked for her mom — who did not have COVID-19 — to be taken to the hospital, the long-term care home tried to block the transfer.

“No. We don’t do that. You have to trust that we are taking care of her,” Coons said River Glen Haven told her.

After an eventual transfer to hospital, Dorothy is recovering and still COVID-19-free.

Coons’ experience is shockingly similar to what other families have been put through at other long-term care homes. Cathy Parkes and Raquel John-Matuzewiski, who both spoke with Horwath Tuesday, report being told by Orchard Villa not to transfer their loved ones to the hospital — that their loved one would be kept in palliative care at the home, or that paramedics would refuse to take them, or that the hospital would turn them away, sending them back to the nursing home. Parkes’ father died in long-term care.

“It’s horrifying to imagine that anyone in Ontario would ever be denied live-saving care or comforting end-of-life care,” said Horwath. “These seniors deserved so much better.”

Tanya Coons explained, “My mom wasn’t doing well, but she had tested negative for COVID-19 multiple times. After pushing and pushing for a UTI test, I was finally able to confirm that my mom had an infection. Despite treatment for the infection, something was still off — my mom wasn’t her usual self. I asked for my mom to be transferred to hospital, but the long-term care home dismissed my request. After waiting a few days, when I was left to agonize over whether I should have pushed harder, I insisted that my mom be taken to hospital, where she remains today. I’m relieved my mom is doing better now, but families shouldn’t have to fight like I did to get their loved ones the care they need.”

Andrea Horwath