COVID-19 in Ontario hospitals: Patients could be moved to long-term care, retirement homes without consent

Elisabetta Bianchini
·2 min read
TORONTO, March 11, 2021 -- Medical workers wheel a patient into a hospital in Toronto, Canada, on March 11, 2021. The Canadian government has designated March 11 as National Day of Observance to commemorate those who died of COVID-19. As of Thursday afternoon, Canada reported a total of 898,824 COVID-19 cases and 22,363 deaths, according to CTV. (Photo by Zou Zheng/Xinhua via Getty) (Xinhua/Zou Zheng via Getty Images)

Ontario Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Christine Elliott, announced an amendment to the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act to move some patients out of hospitals and into long-term care or retirement homes to make space for COVID-19 patients.

"This would be done in only the most urgent of situations, when a hospital is at risk of becoming overwhelmed," Elliott said. "We will ensure patient or their substitute decision makers will have the opportunity to be actively involved in and consent to their transfer."

She did go on to say that they "may be some situations" where a transfer is made without a patient's consent.

"Hospitals may rely upon this order only when absolutely necessary to respond to a major surge event and when the attending physician is satisfied that the patient will receive the care they require in their new setting," Elliott said. "This would be a temporary transfer and [any] patient who is transferred to a long-term care home that is not their first choice will continue to maintain their place in line for their first choice."

"Every effort will be made to ensure patients have been fully vaccinated before being transferred."

Matthew Anderson, president and CEO of Ontario Health, explained that these will be individuals who have been designated by their medical team as being stable and ready to be moved to another setting.

"Oftentimes what happens is the setting of their choice does not have a bed available, and what this order does for us is enables us to talk to the patient and their family about would they consider moving to another setting, another home that would absolutely be able to provide the kind of care that they need," he said.

There are currently 2,281 in Ontario hospitals with COVID-19, including 877 in ICUs.