Dozens of residents in two Ontario nursing homes hit hard by the coronavirus died not from COVID-19 but from dehydration and neglect, the Canadian military says in reports obtained by The Globe and Mail.
The documents contain new details about the deplorable conditions in two Toronto homes before the Forces stepped in last year, revealing for the first time that causes other than COVID-19 hastened the deaths of residents as outbreaks spiralled out of control and staffing collapsed.
At Downsview Long Term Care Centre, where one in four residents succumbed to the virus, another 26 died from dehydration before a military team arrived last June to provide humanitarian and medical support.
At Hawthorne Place Care Centre, 51 residents died of COVID-19 in the 269-bed facility. The military says it suspects those fatalities pale in comparison to deaths from other causes. “Residents are dying from non-COVID-19 causes more than they should be.”
The allegation of deaths because of dehydration is “not only troubling but potentially criminal,” Amber Irwin, a spokeswoman for Long-Term Care Minister Merrilee Fullerton, said in an e-mail on Sunday.
According to figures published by the provincial government, 3,762 long-term care residents in Ontario have died of COVID-19. But no one is tracking the number of fatalities from other causes during the pandemic.
The reports on Downsview and Hawthorne were submitted to the independent commission that examined the devastating impact of the coronavirus on residents in long-term care homes but have not been made public.