MONTREAL -- As Quebec braces for the second wave of COVID-19, officials are outlining what measures have been put in place to ensure the province’s long-term care homes aren’t ravaged the way they were during the first.

Reports published on Wednesday following investigations into long-term care homes (CHSLDs) Herron in Montreal and Sainte-Dorothee in Laval revealed several issues that existed within the health-care system before the pandemic hit, the government said. At Herron, where 43 residents died, officials claim the problem was a “delay in intervention” – at Sainte-Dorothee, where more than 100 residents died, it was “technical issues and a lack of personnel.” 

“The pandemic has brought to light already existing gaps in the network," Health Minister Dube said in a release on Wednesday. "The government responded quickly to the findings presented in these reports. Not only did the major changes undertaken serve to prepare us for the second wave, our actions are sustainable and their benefits will continue after the pandemic. "

The announcement on Wednesday by Dube and Seniors' Minister Marguerite Blais states that the government has implemented (or is in the process of implementing) the following changes in the province’s long-term care homes:

  • Changes to the management structure;
  • Continued efforts with partner ministries to implement solutions for labour shortage (the government says it has added 7,000 CHSLD attendants and will add 3,000 more this fall);
  • Dissemination of an action plan to strengthen the application of infection prevention and control measures in living, accommodation and rehabilitation environments (the government says it has set up intervention teams to apply the measures – 15,000 people will be trained);
  • Clarification of roles and responsibilities regarding infection prevention in public and private settings;
  • Review of the process for transmitting directives from the ministry to institutions and partners;
  • Establishment of a committee on medical services in living environments;
  • Different measures to be taken in various living environments depending on the alert level in each Quebec region;
  • Enhancement of technology and implementation of IT solutions so doctors can better monitor patients' symptoms remotely;
  • Clarification of roles and responsibilities in private CHSLDs in the context of a health emergency and otherwise;
  • Conversion of private CHSLDs not under agreement to ones under public agreement;
  • Tabling of Bill 52, which is an act to strengthen the complaint assessment system of the health network, particularly for users who receive care in private institutions

“It is clear to us that the pandemic alone does not justify what happened," Blais said. "We learned from the first wave to make sure we never relive human dramas like the ones we experienced last spring."