‘We need this done’: Advocates call on N.S. government to launch Northwood inquiry
HALIFAX -- There are renewed calls for the Nova Scotia government to launch a public inquiry into the deadly spread of COVID-19 at a Halifax nursing home.
To date, 53 of the 64 deaths associated with the virus in Nova Scotia have occurred at a single facility, Northwood’s Halifax campus.
“The 53 deaths at Northwood are just as tragic as anything that I can think of,” said Gary MacLeod, with the ACE Team, or Advocates for the Care of the Elderly. “It’s tragic that the 53 deaths that occurred at Northwood have all but been forgotten.”
In addition to the fatalities, hundreds of other residents and staff at the nursing home were infected with COVID-19.
On June 30, Health and Wellness Minister Randy Delorey announced a review, not an inquiry, would be done into the outbreak at Northwood.
The review will consider a number of things, including whether the preparedness for and response to COVID-19 infections were appropriate and timely during each stage of the outbreak, as well as best practices in effectively controlling and preventing the introduction and spread of COVID-19 in long-term care settings.
Government has also committed to doing a separate, internal review of broader infection prevention and control within the long-term care sector.
“Like all Nova Scotians, we are very concerned and saddened about what happened at Northwood and want answers for the families and friends who lost loved ones to this terrible virus,” said Delorey at the time of last month’s announcement. “The recommendations will help Northwood and other long-term care facilities better prepare for future waves of this virus.”
A review doesn’t go far enough for some advocates.
MacLeod says the elderly are often times put on the back burner, and says it’s important a full inquiry is made into the situation at Northwood, to bring closures to the families involved.
“The elderly are forgotten people,” said MacLeod. “The immediate thing that needs to happen is this inquiry for Northwood has to happen immediately. The same way that they turned around, they pivoted for the 22 shootings in Nova Scotia, they can do exactly the same thing for long-term care. But there seems to be some resistance on the part of some politicians to do this, and I just don’t understand that.”
MacLeod had this message for Premier Stephen McNeil.
“Let’s have an inquiry Mr. Premier. This is just as important to your political career as the 22 deaths that happened in Nova Scotia. We have 53 deaths that we’re not even paying attention to. We need this done,” he said.
MacLeod says it’s like “pulling teeth” to get the elderly the attention that they deserve.
“Before the pandemic happened, there was an outcry that Nova Scotia health care was in a crisis and even long-term was even more of a crisis because we had the outbreaks of bedsores and they seem to be all but forgotten. So, we need to move forward, and please, Mr. Premier, please pivot on this one as well because we need the elderly to have the quality of life that they deserve in long-term care,” he said.