Court orders London’s Henley Place to better protect staff from COVID outbreaks

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice has ordered four long-term care homes in the province – including Henley Place in London – to better protect staff from COVID-19 outbreaks.

The Ontario Nurses Association (ONA) had requested the injunction earlier this week, accusing the homes of failing to adequately protect their staff from the novel coronavirus.

The decision requires the facilities to comply with provincial infection control and health standards

Two residents of the London facility have died since an outbreak was first reported on March 28. Henley Place reported a total of 10 positive cases on April 11. It would not say if any of the people infected are staff members.

In his ruling, Justice Edward Morgan wrote: “Where the lives of nurses and patients are placed at risk, the balance of convenience favours those measures that give primacy to the health and safety of medical personnel and those that they treat.”

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He said that nurses are “sacrificing their personal interests to those under their care…not only for the immediate benefit of their patients, but for the benefit of society at large.”

ONA, which represents 68,000 registered nurses and health-care professionals, had asked the court “on an urgent basis” to issue mandatory orders addressing what the union described as serious health and safety problems, including shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks and gowns.

‘Err on the side of caution’

“ONA is thrilled that our members will have access to the proper protective equipment they need to protect themselves, and therefore their residents, and that the homes’ administrators will be forced to follow infection control practices — and put safety over profit,” said ONA president Vicki McKenna in a statement Thursday night.

McKenna noted that Morgan “quoted the precautionary principle — to err on the side of caution and take all measures reasonable to keep workers safe — in his ruling.”

The other three homes named by the Ontario Nurses Association were: Anson Place Care Centre in Hagersville, Eatonville Care Centre in Etobicoke, and Hawthorne Place Care Centre in North York.

About 60 residents have died in total in the three facilities.

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