TORONTO — Ontario says hospitals will be able to transfer patients waiting for a long-term care bed to any nursing home without their consent in an effort to free up space.
Health Minister Christine Elliott says the government has issued a new emergency order to allow for such transfers in a bid to free up hospital capacity for COVID-19 patients in need of urgent care.
Elliott says hundreds of patients currently in hospital are waiting to be discharged to a long-term care home.
She says transfers without consent will only be done in the most urgent situations.
Elliott also says the transfers will only take place if the patients’ medical team is confident the move will not compromise their condition.
“The spread of COVID-19 variants continues to pose a significant threat to our health system’s critical care capacity and the lives of Ontarians,” said Elliott on Wednesday.
“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.”
Ontario’s hospitals have been facing a major capacity crunch as the third wave of the pandemic hits the province hard.
On Wednesday, Ontario reported 3,480 new coronavirus cases, bringing the provincial total to 455,606.
The province also reported 2,281 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, with 877 patients in intensive care units and 605 patients in ICUs on a ventilator.
“Ontario’s retirement homes can provide a safe and welcoming environment with the vast majority of residents being fully vaccinated during Phase One of the province’s rollout,” said Raymond Cho, Minster for Seniors and Accessibility, on Wednesday.
“As we work together to support Ontario’s health network, retirement homes are well positioned to assist by providing the appropriate level of care to patients in need.”
—With files from Jessica Patton