Coronavirus: Front-line workers who left LTC homes in May won’t come back, commission hears

Coronavirus: Front-line workers who left LTC homes in May won’t come back, commission hears
A second surge has taken hold this fall with outbreaks declared in 83 homes by late October, up from 32 homes in September, according to provincial data.

To date, 1,938 long-term care residents and eight staff members have died.

The commission is investigating how the novel coronavirus spread in the long-term care system and will submit its final report on April 30, 2021. Its hearings are not open to the public and transcripts of testimony are posted online days later.

Last week, the commission issued a series of interim recommendations to help the homes and said “more full-time positions must be created to ensure staffing stability and retention, and resident continuity of care.”

Vickram Sooknanen, a personal support worker at Midland Gardens Care Community in east Toronto where 42 residents died of COVID-19, said he and his colleagues on the front lines just want to be heard.

“As a worker, do I have faith that things are going to change?

To be totally honest, I don’t think so,” he told the commission.

He said confusion reigned early on in the pandemic, with mixed messages coming from public health, the ministry and the homes.

They were told the home had plenty of personal protective equipment, but then were told not to wear masks. Then they were told to wear masks, but were only given one mask per shift.

“We’d still go to the break rooms, we’ll put our masks down, and then we’ll pick up the same mask and wear it continue going from resident to resident,” Sooknanen said.

He said patients suspected of having COVID-19 sneezed and coughed on him while he wore the handout surgical masks.

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When doctors came in, they wore the more protective N95 masks and isolation gowns, which upset Sooknanen. He asked the home if the workers should also be wearing the same protective gear.
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