Thoughts on economics and liberty

Letter by a registered nurse, R.N. Joyce, from Ontario about the DISASTROUS management of nursing homes

PDF of the letter – via Facebook. The letter sounds absolutely authentic, so I’m taking it to be real. It shows how the elderly are dying because of the extreme loneliness and lack of care. The letter also alludes to the massive harms from lockdowns.

===THE LETTER==

October 30, 2020.

I have been nursing for 48+ years and currently continue to work part time. Most of my career has been in acute care with the last 5 years being in long term care. I have worked through all the previous medical dilemmas since 1972. I am passionate about my position and my career choice.

When COVID-19 was first addressed by Doug Ford, I truly thought he and the Conservative party were on the right track. Now I am baffled, confused and to be frank, extremely angry. I am still trying to pinpoint when Mr. Ford headed down the wrong fork in the road.

We have daily numbers thrown at us, a statistician’s dream, but we can all play at a numbers game. We had 600+ positive cases in April with 12000 swabs, then 850+ with 42000 swabs a month ago. But some of the numbers are being lost in the fine print.

I now see people wearing masks or worse yet those sorry excuses for a mask (the clear pieces of plastic that start at the chin and are open just at the nose level). Most masks are coming out of pockets, purses, from hanging on the car’s rear view mirror and not one person I have spoken to has been able to tell me they are washing their cloth masks daily. Social distancing in the stores has gone by the wayside, the use of hand sanitizers at the entryway stand alone. And…to be perfectly frank and honest these masks are not effective. The surgical masks in acute care settings were never meant for prolonged periods of time and now I wear the same one for 12 hours at work. I am COVID swabbed every 2 weeks, something that is not done at QHC. There is absolutely no consistency across our healthcare sector. We were further ahead without the masks.

There are now backlogs for care, surgeries and treatments in the acute care settings due to COVID and the way it is being handled. When one of these clients dies because of delayed treatments and procedures does that also become a COVID death? Are the people who die at home because they do not want to attend the hospital or emergency department after listening and buying into months of propaganda and fear mongering until their situation is too late going to be counted as a COVID death?

Mr. Ford preached in emphatically about making improvements in the long-term care sector. He said it would happen in the short term as opposed to taking years for at least some of these improvements. Somehow, he left that on the other road he was travelling.

There are critical shortages of R.N.’s, R.P.N.’s and especially P.S.W.’s in every one of the nursing homes in your jurisdiction as well as across the province. A temporary wage increase was given to the P.S.W.’s and very well deserved, however, this should not be a temporary measure. Some of the politicians should shadow a few of these P.S.W.’s or registered staff for a shift. A Registered Nurse is responsible for an entire nursing home on the night shift with some homes housing 100+ residents. During medication passes the Registered staff deliver medications to 30 plus residents as well as do wound care, manage falls, critical events, charting, care plans and yes, sadly pronouncing death and contacting POA’s and family.

Our residents in long term care are suffering. They are depressed and long for some purpose to their lives. That used to be the visits from family and friends. When the rare occasion presents itself and a visit is allowed it is either outside, sitting 6 to 8 feet away from their loved ones with absolutely no touching. The other option is a window visit. This is done by residents and family members using baby monitors in an attempt to carry out a conversation. Keep in mind, many of these residents have some degree of dementia as well has some level of hearing loss and were not raised in a high-tech world. Also remember that we have critical staffing shortages so assistance is not always available with the exception of setting a resident up with the monitor and telling them to push the button if they want to talk. Our federal prison system is doing a better job with visitation.

Again, there is no consistency between these homes with regards to activities, so boredom and lack of purpose becomes very apparent. Wake up time is 0600 hours and that is because every resident needs some degree of assistance to be up, washed, dressed and ready for breakfast by approximately 0800 hours and there are not enough staff to allow for personal preference. If you miss breakfast, you wait for the morning snack cart. There is no continental breakfast available.

Some of the homes are very old with constant breakdowns and makeshift repairs. I personally assisted with removing 3 bats (on 3 separate occasions) during the night shift this last summer. I am not sure what to put that under on my resume. There is a definite division between profit and not for profit homes.

Having come from hospital settings for so many years I never gave the nursing homes a second thought. Now I am wondering if I am living in the U.S.A. with their healthcare system. Our seniors do not deserve this. They do not deserve the lack of activity and stimulation (which leads them to spend more time in bed — allowing for upper respiratory and/or urinary tract infections to set in on their already medically compromised situation. Most have at least two or three chronic diagnoses (diabetes, congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive lung disease, Parkinson’s, some level of dementia to name a few).

If the Ford government keeps going down this same path, there will be more deaths and I imagine they could all be deemed COVID related however in truth it will be because of loneliness, loss of purpose, fear or lack of will to live. This is not what our seniors deserve and we are failing them miserably.

Minister Fullerton refused to answer questions just a few days ago. I don’t doubt it — I am sure she truly does not know what is going on. The Ministry makes annual inspections of these homes and yes each administrator has a sense of when that will occur and does not return unless there is a formal complaint, a critical incident or a follow-up to a major non-compliance has been found.

I invite you and your colleagues to tour each of the homes in your ridings but only give them short notice (e.g. 12 hours). Arrive at a meal time —tour the rooms, the kitchens, the storage areas, the activity boards — and get a true sense of where our seniors are living out their last years or months. Then ask yourself just two questions — Would I be happy living here if I had to be in a nursing home? Would I be comfortable with the lack of family visits during this unprecedented time?

I will continue to do what I can for my residents. However, the physical and emotional drain of working constantly short staffed and attempting to help these people weather a very lonely storm with absolutely no real end in sight is very disheartening. Throw that in with the government making policies that are not in the best interests of the people of Ontario and have all the appearances of being self-serving—frankly I am appalled.

Remembrance Day will soon be upon us. My Dad was in the war. What we are doing right now to the people of Canada is not what he fought for. His mottos in life were to work hard, provide for his family, develop a strong work ethic and tolerate no nonsense. He taught his kids to stand up for themselves and as he used to say “the underdog” because they can’t always do it on their own.

We all need to get back to the business of living — we have already lost so many small businesses, suicides and mental health issues are skyrocketing. With any viral epidemic or pandemic there will be deaths however those deaths will pale in comparison to the deaths and damage from all this political, peripheral fallout.

Yours truly
Joyce, R.N.

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Sanjeev Sabhlok

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