In a move that may seem counter-intuitive the Ontario Government announced a contingency plan to clear recovering COVID patients from acute care beds by transferring them to Long Term Care facilities. The Ontario government, has issued a temporary emergency order to provide hospitals with the flexibility to transfer patients to long-term care or retirement homes without obtaining the consent of the patient or, where the patient is incapable, their substitute decision maker.
The amended order can only be used during major surge events where the demand for critical care threatens to overwhelm a hospital and compromise care. Hundreds of individuals in hospital are waiting to be discharged to a long-term care home or another more appropriate care setting and first priority will be given to patients with less complex care needs and those who are able to be moved close to their preferred choice.
Said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “While this is an extremely difficult decision to make, the consequences of not doing so could be devastating if we don’t have the hospital beds we urgently need to care for the growing number of COVID-19 patients. “
In a news release the ministry says, “Hospitals may rely upon this order only when necessary to respond to a major surge event, when the attending physician is satisfied that the patient will receive the care they require at the long-term care or retirement home. Transfers will only be made when medical professionals are confident they will not compromise the patient’s medical condition, and where all of the other conditions specified within the order have been met including agreement by the home that they can meet the patient’s needs. Every effort will be made to ensure these patients are fully immunized from COVID-19 before moving.”