Province still determining if military support is headed to Anson Place

The province is still deciding Anson Place Care Centre in Hagersville is one of the homes where military personnel will arrive to help with staffing and medical care.

A spokesperson for Premier Doug Ford said Thursday that it will “release more details as appropriate” about which homes will get military attention.

“We are in the process of working out specific details with the federal government,” Ford’s office said in an email.

The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit says it hasn’t heard if the military will arrive. Lisa Roth, Anson Place executive director, didn’t respond to an email Thursday.

In an email the day before, Roth said 27 residents have died from COVID-19, with 23 from the long-term care home and four from the retirement residence.

“I am extremely sad to inform you that two additional residents have passed since my update yesterday,” she said.

Anson Place has one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in the province. Overall, 71 of 101 residents have tested positive for the virus, as well as 30 staff. This prompted the care centre to put out a call for more staff and volunteers. Forty-four residents still have COVID-19.

Ford took direct aim at Roth Wednesday, saying she’d turned down provincial help. 

“Anyone who makes that judgment call, I wonder why they’re even in charge at that home,” he told the media. “When you have those many deaths, those many positive cases of COVID-19, why wouldn’t you? We aren’t too proud to call in our federal government or anyone. I’ll take people from anywhere in the country for support.”

“Sometimes pride gets in the way. I’d say to that person, swallow your pride and ask for help.”

Roth didn’t specify Wednesday if she had turned down provincial help, but said she had communicated the need for it only for one part of the home to the local health integrated network. Anson Place has enough staff in the retirement home, she said, but needs more staff for long-term care residents.

“We are meeting the care needs of our residents, but additional staff would help us shore up our care and services in these challenging times,” she said. “We have communicated our staffing challenges to various partners and to the community this past week.”

“Why did the province not act sooner to stop the virus from spreading in long-term care homes?” CBC reporter Lisa Xing asked Ford on March 31. 1:26

Measures at Anson Place include isolating residents and bringing meals to their rooms, Roth said. Staff are also screening residents for coronavirus-related symptoms twice a day, and wearing personal protective equipment during their shifts. 

Merrilee Fullerton, Ontario’s minister of long-term care, said the military personnel will go to the homes with the greatest need. But the rate of fatalities is steadily growing at several Ontario long-term care homes, so it’s not clear if Anson Place qualifies anymore.

Thirty-six residents have died at Eatonville Care Centre in Etobicoke, 32 at Orchard Villa Long-Term Care in Pickering, and 29 at Seven Oaks in Scarborough. 

Eatonville, Anson Place and Hawthorne Place Care Centre in North York are all operated by Rykka Care Centres, an operating partner of Markham-based Responsive Management Inc.

The Ontario Nurses’ Association has filed a court injunction, which a superior court judge heard Wednesday but reserved judgment. The court documents allege that the facilities didn’t properly isolate residents, and give staff enough personal protective equipment.

The Services Employees International Union has asked the province to step in and run the facilities.

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