When will we stop studying long-term care and start fixing it? André Picard
2021-02-23 from theglobeandmail.com
In April, 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic was just beginning to spiral out of control in Quebec. The news headlines were dominated by horrific tales of neglect in long-term care homes, with one facility, Résidence Herron, squarely in the spotlight.
A dramatic exposé in the Montreal Gazette revealed that when public-health officials arrived, they found residents wallowing in urine and feces because their incontinence pads had not been changed in days. Others were dehydrated, starving and disoriented. Most of the staff – overworked, sick and underpaid – had fled.
It was the story that really drove home the severity of the pandemic, and the need for governments to act. A visibly angry Premier François Legault decried the “gross negligence” at the home, where 31 people had died of COVID-19 in gruesome circumstances. (That number later rose to 47.)
A flurry of investigations followed: A coroner’s inquest was announced immediately, then a police investigation, an internal review within the provincial Ministry of Health and Social Services, and an investigation by the provincial ombudsperson.
Last week, a mere 10 months later, the coroner’s inquest opened with some reflective words by coroner Géhane Kamel: “The loss of a human life when it could have been avoided is always a tragedy for loved ones and society. But the indecent and inhuman conditions surrounding those deaths should also be considered.”
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