UPDATED – 2020-07-22
Patient Ombudsman’s team is doing our part to help slow the spread of COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus)
What we are doing
Patient Ombudsman staff are all working from home.
Patient Ombudsman is no longer open for ‘drop-in’ or face-to-face appointments with complainants.
Patient Ombudsman’s dedicated team continues to work with complainants and health sector organizations over the telephone and using e-mail to resolve healthcare complaints.
Common Complaints and Concerns Patient Ombudsman can receive about COVID-19
Patient Ombudsman is here to receive your healthcare complaints related to COVID-19. It is important for complainants to know that we are following the advice and recommendations from Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health.
Here is some updated information for complainants on:
Visitation restrictions (not being allowed to visit loved ones in hospitals and long-term care homes)
PPE equipment for Healthcare workers (not having or wearing appropriate personal protective equipment – masks, gloves)
Changes to home care (adjusting care plans, cancelled services from PSWs and other home care workers)
Visitation update for Ontario’s long-term care homes.
As of July 22nd - If a long-term care home is not experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak:
2 visitors per resident can visit inside the long-term care home
Homes will provide approved masks that visitors must wear inside
Visitors must also wear face coverings for outside visits
Visitors must maintain physical/social distancing
Visitors must pass a screening questionnaire developed by the long-term care home
Visitors must test negative for COVID-19 within the past two weeks/14 days (and not have tested positive for COVID-19 since that time)
Helpful tip: Phone or email ahead as long-term care home staff will be coordinating visits to ensure appropriate physical/social distancing occurs. Homes will likely be scheduling visits with a number of family members and may limit the number of visits that happen at any given time.
Public hospitals and long-term care homes have received guidance from Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health to restrict visitors.
Essential visitors for public hospitals include:
the parent or guardian of an ill child or youth
a visitor of a patient undergoing a complex surgery
a person accompanying a patient giving birth
a person visiting a very ill or dying patient
Patient Ombudsman encourages Ontarians to check the website of your local hospital or to call ahead for updates about visitation.
This is an extraordinary situation. These measures are important to keep sick and vulnerable patients from getting sicker.
It is also critical that healthcare workers remain well so they can continue to provide care. We recognize that this is distressing, but it is important to keep people safe and well.
Patient Ombudsman is tracking all complaints we receive related to COVID-19 and will be communicating concerns we hear to the appropriate officials.
Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health has given specific guidance to long-term care homes/home care providers to ensure precautions are in place to keep patients and their families safe. The guidance covers the need for active screening and self-monitoring to identify health care workers that are at risk or have symptoms of illness. Workers who do not pass the screening are not to work.
In the majority of situations, health care workers/staff will not be wearing personal protective equipment, including masks, gowns, gloves and visors, when they provide your/your loved one’s care. These precautions are used when the screening process has identified a risk of illness. Patients may be asked to wear masks, if they can tolerate it, while their health care worker provides direct care.
If you have concerns that a long-term care home/home care provider is not following this guidance you should contact:
If are not satisfied contact us by phone 1.888.321.0339 or our online complaint form www.patientombudsman.ca/Complaints/Make-a-complaint/Submit-Complaint
To ensure that Ontario’s hospitals have the capacity to care for the growing number of seriously ill patients with COVID-19, many hospitals will safely discharge patients home to receive home care. As more high needs patients are sent home, LHIN home and community care are adjusting care plans temporarily for some current patients.
We recognize that these changes will place an increased burden on caregivers while the COVID-19 crisis unfolds. As long as there is no immediate health or safety risk to you/your loved one, it is unlikely that LHINs will have the capacity to make exceptions to these service reductions.
If you are concerned that the reduction in your services will pose such a risk or if your situation changes, we encourage you to contact your care coordinator or the patient relations representative at your LHIN.
If you are unhappy with the LHIN’s response you can contact us again by telephone or submit a complaint using our on-line complaint form.
Patient Ombudsman is tracking all complaints we receive related to COVID-19 and will be communicating concerns we are hearing about the impact of service changes to the appropriate officials.
The government has changed regulations about long-term care home placement during the COVID-19 pandemic.
By streamlining the placement process and amending some of the placement rules, the government is seeking to create capacity in hospitals to treat people who are seriously ill.
First available bed
One change will allow Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) to place hospital patients in the first available bed, with the consent of the patient or the patient’s substitute decision-maker. The LHIN is required to consider whether the bed is appropriate based on the patient’s needs and to try to accommodate patients’ and families’ wishes to be as close as possible. However, some patients might be asked to agree to a bed offer that is far away from their families and friends. Patient Ombudsman understands that these changes may be distressing.
The new rules will also streamline the transfer of people to a home of their choice once the capacity pressures on hospitals have eased. For example, people placed in a long-term care home under these new rules will be placed on the crisis list for transfer to their first choice home once hospital capacity pressures have eased.
Patient Ombudsman takes the new regulations into consideration in the resolution of these complaints.
This is a stressful time for all Ontarians. To make the best use of testing supplies, the Ministry of Health has provided guidance on patients that receive priority for testing. This means that not everyone who is experiencing symptoms or has had contact with someone who is ill will have access to testing at this time.
If you are experience symptoms of COVID-19, including fever or cough, call your primary care provider or contact Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000. They will provide you with a referral to an assessment centre in your community if it is warranted based on provincial guidance.
Please do not visit an assessment centre unless you have been referred by a health care professional.
If you are having difficulty connecting with your primary care provider or telehealth, you can also contact your local public health unit. http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/common/system/services/phu/locations.aspx
If you have difficulty breathing, call 911.
Public Hospitals are cancelling or postponing many appointments. Many hospitals are postponing treatments, procedures or elective surgeries, as each hospital works to manage COVID-19.
Patient Ombudsman asks that you work with the hospital or your care provider to re-schedule your appointments or procedures.
Patient Ombudsman can work with you to help re-establish communication with the hospital if you do not receive a fair outcome to your concern.
Public health responses and recommendations from levels of government are evolving in response to COVID-19.
As of March 18th 2020, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer advises that all healthcare workers who have travelled outside of Canada within the last 14 days self-isolate for a period of 14 days starting from their arrival in Ontario.
Some healthcare workers are critical in treating patients and helping their organizations address COVID-19. Critical healthcare workers who have travelled recently are asked to screen regularly, use appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for 14 days and undertake active self-monitoring. Including taking their temperature twice daily to monitor for fever, and immediately self-isolate if symptoms develop and self-identify to their occupational health and safety department.
If you are feeling sick or are wondering if you have COVID-19 (Coronavirus) please check the government’s self-assessment screening tool before going to a hospital emergency department (ED) or designated screening centre.
Self-assessment screening tool https://www.ontario.ca/page/2019-novel-coronavirus-covid-19-self-assessment
For additional health concerns or information about COVID-19 please call Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000, or your local public health unit to learn more about symptoms and screening.
The Ontario government is extending validation to expired and expiring health cards. You do not need to renew your health card at this time.
If you have an old red and white health card, these are still scheduled to expire on July 1, 2020. This deadline may change as the COVID-19 situation evolves. You are advised to check with Service Ontario at the link below for updates.
For more information about your health card please visit https://www.ontario.ca/page/health-card-renewal
Patient Ombudsman continues to receive healthcare complaints about public hospitals, long-term care homes, home and community care coordination provided by the LHINs.
Patient Ombudsman will provide slower than usual service.
To patients and caregivers who have open complaint files with us, please expect delays to the resolution and closure of your complaint file.
Many of the patient relations staff at public hospitals, long-term care homes or Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) are supporting their organizations’ response to COVID-19. Patient relations staff at health sector organizations are often Patient Ombudsman’s primary point of contact when we conduct early complaint resolutions and investigations.
In fairness, Patient Ombudsman recognizes and appreciates that the response to COVID-19 may cause a delay in communication with patient relations staff at Ontario’s health sector organizations. These delays in communication will likely lead to prolonged timelines to resolve many of our complaint files.
We appreciate your understanding and cooperation at this time. We apologize for any additional stress or frustration this may cause.