The Ontario government is responding to the recent rapid rise in hospitalizations with measures that will add capacity to the health care system.
“The third wave of COVID-19 is putting unprecedented pressure on Ontario’s hospitals, requiring immediate action,” said Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care. “My ministry is working with our partners at the Ministry of Health and Ontario Health to help create more critical care capacity in hospitals — while protecting the safety and security of long-term care residents and staff.”
The province is making changes to encourage alternate level of care patients in hospitals who are waiting for a long-term care home placement to accept a placement in a home that may not be their preferred choice. Ontario is waiving co-payments for these patients until they can be transferred to a home of their choice. In addition, patients who accept these placements will maintain priority status on the waitlist for their preferred home.
Rules regarding admissions and transfers have also been updated in Directive 3 for Long-Term Care:
- For fully immunized residents with a negative laboratory-based test at the time of admission or transfer, no isolation is required.
- For partially immunized or unimmunized residents, a laboratory-based test is required at the time of admission or transfer, and the resident must isolate for a minimum of 10 days (reduced from 14 days) subject to a negative laboratory test taken on Day 8.
To help ensure appropriate levels of care for current and new or returning residents, the government has amended orders O.Reg 158/20 Limiting Work to a Single Retirement Home and O.Reg 146/20 Limiting Work to a Single Long-Term Care Home to exempt fully immunized long-term care home and retirement home employees from restrictions that prohibit them from working in more than one home, or in another heath care setting. The government is also providing Ontario Health and Home and Community Care Support Services (HCCSS) the authority to redeploy staff to long-term care homes and retirement homes to facilitate and support placements.