PETER BEVAN-BAKER: Immediate action is needed to address the growing crisis in long-term care

The Omicron wave of COVID is showing us how vulnerable our healthcare system is on PEI and is highlighting real challenges in our long-term care (LTC) system.

Last week, I shared concerns from healthcare workers and family members that staffing shortages in LTC homes are putting Island seniors at risk. Michele Beaton, the Official Opposition Critic for Health and Wellness, also shared how Minister Ernie Hudson can improve these staffing shortages. 

Since then, I have heard numerous reports that the situation in some LTC homes has deteriorated further. Worsening staff shortages are leading to a decrease in the care provided to residents, and COVID protocols not being followed. This is putting both LTC residents and healthcare workers at risk. 

For example, some residents are being made to share rooms with others who have tested positive for COVID. This is in direct violation of the 2021 LTC COVID protocols developed by government to keep Island seniors safe. I am also hearing from LTC workers who are caring for both COVID positive and COVID negative residents, another violation of the protocols.

I have spoken to several healthcare workers who are doing everything they can to provide care to the residents in LTC. They are working unimaginably long hours, walking to work through snow storms, and putting their own health at risk to provide this much-needed care. But they are drowning. They know they cannot keep going like this and they need help.

Now I’ve been made aware that education staff are being asked by government to help fill in as RCW support at several LTC homes. This feels like yet again government grasping at straws in the midst of a crisis, instead of putting a plan in place before the crisis hits.

The Premier says there are contingency plans in place but has not communicated any of them. Islanders deserve to know what they are. It is absolutely critical that government act immediately and do everything in its powers to keep Island seniors and the staff that care for them safe. 

This government had two years to be ready for COVID outbreaks in long-term care and to learn from mistakes made in other jurisdictions, but now that it has arrived it is painfully clear they have failed to prepare. 

Honourable Peter Bevan-Baker, MLA
New Haven - Rocky Point
Leader of the Official Opposition