Manitoba Health Minister Cameron Friesen called for an independent investigation into two Winnipeg care homes that have become the sites of deadly COVID-19 outbreaks.
That investigation will focus on a Friday night incident at the Maples Long Term Care Home that saw paramedics called to the site to care for 12 residents whose conditions were rapidly deteriorating, Friesen said at a news conference on Sunday morning.
Two of those residents, who were getting end-of-life care — including one who had COVID-19 — died before crews arrived, and another three were taken to hospital.
“Keeping COVID-19 out of our care homes has been one of the greatest challenges and one of the greatest areas of focus… during this pandemic,” he said. “More clearly needs to be done.”
A rapid response team was called in to the Maples care home on Saturday after eight people died there in a span of 48 hours.
The investigation will also look into what has been happening at the Parkview Place Long Term Care Home, which is the site of Manitoba’s deadliest COVID-19 outbreak with at least 23 deaths as of Friday.
“We know how incredibly serious COVID-19 is. We know that both in Manitoba and from following the rest of the world,” he said. “We know that COVID and long-term care homes is exceptionally serious, because of how susceptible the elderly are … and we have seen that recently.”
Friesen said the province will look to hire an independent investigator to look into what has been happening at both sites and return with advice for what the government could do to help long-term care homes during the pandemic. He said as of right now there will be no official inquiry into the situation, but did not rule that step out.
A case summary of what happened at Maples on Friday night is also being put together, he said, which will seek to understand what was done by workers at the care home, whether those steps were medically appropriate and whether there are lessons to take away.
That summary will assess patient conditions, care provided and frequency of interventions, Friesen said.
The health minister also said he has directed the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority to immediately bring in “additional supervision measures” at the Maples care home.
Friesen also said he has directed the health authority to reach out to all personal care homes across the province to determine whether the sites are prepared to react to quickly changing resident conditions. He also called for the creation of a long-term care task force within the health incident command structure.
On Saturday evening, Winnipeg police officers were seen entering the Maples care home, where a COVID-19 outbreak has to date claimed the lives of 22 people. Around 8 p.m., the forensic identification unit truck was parked across the street from the site, and officers in protective suits were seen leaving the facility and going back into that truck.
On Sunday morning, Winnipeg Police Service spokesperson Const. Rob Carver said the police service is aware of concerns at the care home, and investigators “have initiated a preliminary assessment of the situation.”
Meanwhile, about 20 people from the Canadian Red Cross are also scheduled to give additional support at the care home starting Friday, Friesen said.
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