Lack of preparation, decisions made in haste, improvisation: A class action lawsuit filed in Quebec Superior Court alleges that the province’s public CHSLDs showed negligence during the first two waves of COVID-19.
This mismanagement at CHSLDs led to outbreaks that resulted in at least 5,000 deaths between March 13, 2020 and March 20, 2021, the lawsuit argues.
This class action lawsuit application against the provincial government is being filed on behalf of all CHSLD residents who experienced COVID-19 outbreaks during the first two waves of the pandemic and on behalf of the families of those who died.
The main plaintiff in this case, Jean-Pierre Daubois, lost his 94-year-old mother, a resident of the CHSLD Sainte-Dorothée in Laval, in April 2020. During this first wave, almost half of its residents were infected with COVID – 19 died.
The CHSLD Sainte-Dorothée experienced the worst outbreak in Quebec and one of the worst on the planet. Through what we learned in this case, we noticed that there had been several shortcomings in terms of preparation and management.declared Patrick Martin-Ménard, a lawyer representing Mr. Dubois.
We want the Quebec government to be held accountable for this lack of preparation. There was serious incompetence on their part, we want that to change.
An answer too late
During the first hearings held on Monday in the Montreal court, Ms. Martin-Ménard explained that Quebec had a plan to fight a pandemic in 2006. However, the government has lacked diligence towards the citizens of the CHSLD by delaying the implementation of this action plan, according to the demand.
Quebec’s pandemic response plan, Martin-Ménard said, calls on the government to issue a pre-pandemic alert to health facilities when it is confirmed that a new virus is spreading from animals to humans. This fact was already known on January 6, 2020 due to COVID-19, but the province did not issue an alert, the lawyer lamented.
The government did not officially begin preparing for the arrival of the pandemic until late February, two days before the first cases were detected in the province.
What we are stating here is that if this plan had been put in place, as it should have been in January 2020, establishments would have had time to prepare for the pandemic and prepare vulnerable customers.
As of late March, no specific plans were communicated to the health system regarding protecting long-term care facilities, he added. This delay caused Quebec to miss its preparation window, which had disastrous consequences.
A procession passed through several CHSLDs in the Laval region to commemorate the disappearance of COVID-19 victims and highlight the work of frontline employees, in March 2021. (File photo)
Deaths that could have been avoided
Instead of implementing the existing plan, the lawyer said, the government improvised, moving patients from hospitals to long-term care facilities in an effort to free up hospital beds.
These facilities were not prepared to accommodate additional patients and could not adequately care for residents after the government banned visits from family caregivers, Martin-Ménard said.
In one case, he said, a woman who depended on her daughter’s visits to help her eat died shortly after such visits were banned.
The government has limited the ability of long-term care patients to go to hospital if they have COVID-19, but the province has not considered whether long-term care facilities have the capacity to treat these patients, the lawyer argued. .
All of this has had very significant consequences, not only for the people who contracted COVID-19, but also for those who were hit hard by the deprivation of care they suffered as a result.
The attorney said the class action lawsuit could include more than 10,000 people. The compensation sought will depend on the number of members identified, he said, adding that it could run into hundreds of millions of dollars.
Lawyers for the Quebec government declined to comment on the case on Monday. The health facilities will present their counterarguments on Thursday and Friday, after which it will be up to the judge to decide whether the class action lawsuit can move forward or not.