The Quebec Ministry of Health has quietly eased restrictions on health care facilities to allow up to four patients in a room, putting them at risk of infection, an activist charged.
In an order issued last Thursday and posted on your website, the Ministry of Health outlined a plan for rooms for two, three and four people to be filled to capacity in hospitals and nursing homes, reversing an order that came into force when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out that only allowed one patient per room. The order details which patients can be placed in such rooms:
- They must have had a recent negative test for COVID.
- They must not have symptoms of COVID.
- It cannot be known that they have been in contact with the virus in the last 10 days.
- They must be separated from other patients with a curtain.
The order does not allow “severely immunosuppressed” or cancer patients to be placed in multi-person rooms. All multi-person rooms must have private access to a toilet and sink.
Health Ministry spokesman Robert Maranda confirmed the new policy Monday afternoon, saying the reopening of multi-person rooms is an “exceptional” and “temporary” measure, without explaining why the order was put in place or what conditions must be met to have the order lifted.
An activist for the rights of patients described as “stupid” the new relaxation of the measures.
Paul Brunett, executive director of the Conseil pour la protection des malades, warned the government that it is playing with fire when it comes to infection prevention.
“It’s totally contrary to the new rules,” Brunet said. “This goes back 20 years in the past.”
TThe Snowdon Jewish Elder Care Center has already begun complying with the new order, said Daniel Nonen, the husband of a patient. He said that when his wife entered in May, he became the third person to occupy a bed in a four-person room, with a fourth person added last week.
“I was concerned because people don’t seem to realize that COVID is still a big problem and they seem to be taking things lightly,” Nonen said. “They are loosening restrictions even as a lot of people are dying. It’s crazy.”
Nonen said there is an outbreak downtown, which has heightened his concern. Government documents made public Sunday show there are eight people with COVID in the Hope Pavilion at the Eldercare Center.
COVID-19 appears to be on the rise in several CHSLDs in the province. In Montreal, the CHSLD Joseph-François-Perrault has reported 20 infections among its 63 patients, for an infection rate of 32 percent. The Center d’hébergement Waldorf in Côte-St-Luc has an infection rate of 56 percent, with 10 out of 18 patients infected. Across the province, a total of 703 people have been infected during the current active outbreaks in long-term care facilities and 52 have died.
Brunet said he has heard of some institutions that have started to comply with the order, which he suspects comes from Health Minister Chrisitan Dubé in an effort to free up more space in hospitals and nursing homes.
“His plan (aims to) reduce the number of people waiting for beds,” Brunet said. “(He thinks) it will look good, but we are not stupid anymore. The user committees are informing us and they don’t get away with it. Of course not.”
Brunet said that while he is concerned about the risk of COVID infections, crowding patients increases the risk of other potentially fatal infections, such as C. difficile, which can become difficult to control if it is allowed to spread widely in institutions.
“Let’s remind everyone that at one point we were spending almost half a billion to care for patients who were infected in a health facility.”
Maranda, from the Ministry of Health, added that staff at hospitals and long-term care homes are being asked to ensure that the highest infection control standards are in place and that infection control teams approve the measures. taken.
“In the meantime, the Ministry is encouraging facilities to modify, renovate or adapt their spaces with the goal of eliminating rooms with more than two beds and offering a majority of private rooms for residents,” said Maranda.
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