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Ottawa, Jun 10 (Canadian-Media): Non-compliance to safety upgrades in the buildings of Ontario's long-term-care homes in the past two decades have made them more vulnerable to the deadly spread of COVID-19, media reports said.
OLTCA. Image credit: Twitter handle
Almost half of Ontario's long-term care homes have suffered outbreaks since the pandemic started earlier this year.
Data analyzed by Marketplace shows the structure of the buildings was a major contributing factor.
The structural safety standards for Ontario were changed back in 1998, which mandated among other things, that no more than 2 residents should be allowed in nursing home bedrooms.
Vast majority of homes that were not upgraded are run by for-profit companies and have experienced deadly outcome due to COVID-19 outbreaks.
While non-profit and for-profit homes have been equally likely to experience outbreaks, those outbreaks have proven deadlier in for-profit homes.
These buildings with four-person shared wards and communal dining rooms where hundreds of people are brought together for meals make infection control much more difficult, said the experts.
Long-term care homes in Ontario were given 15-year licences in 2010, based on the structural standards they had at the time.
However, 80 percent of the Long term care homes with four-person shared wards still being are run by for-profit homes, meaning almost half of the beds in for-profit facilities are still at the 1972 standard or below.
A commission called by the provincial government to look into Ontario's long-term care system to understand the impacts and responses to the COVID-19 outbreak is scheduled to begin in July.
There are currently 686 older long-term care beds in the construction phase of redevelopment, said the Ministry, and an additional 11,727 at various stages of planning for redevelopment.
The Ministry has been continuously receiving applications to redevelop older beds
In the meantime, the Ontario Long Term Care Association (OLTCA) says, it is asking the ministry for immediate support to make emergency renovations to older buildings to make them "better suited to the level of infection control required for a pandemic."
The changes under consideration include removing carpeting, creating larger spaces for physical distancing in common areas, and converting three- and four-bed rooms to one- and two-bed rooms only.