TORONTO — Ontario’s patient ombudsman has released a series of recommendations on reforming the province’s long-term care system to prepare for a resurgence of COVID-19.

The office began a formal investigation into long-term care in June after receiving hundreds of complaints in the early days of the pandemic.

In a special report made public Thursday, ombudsman Cathy Fooks says that investigation continues.

However, her office is making four “preliminary recommendations” aimed at improving Ontario’s response to COVID-19 and preparing for a second wave in long-term care.

The first is for all health-care providers to have backstops and contingency plans in place to deal with an outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

The other recommendations include enhanced whistleblower protections, dedicated communications resources and a new approach to visitation.

“What is clear is that we must prevent what happened from happening again,” Fooks said in the report.

As of Thursday morning, 1,876 long-term care residents and eight staff members had died of COVID-19 in Ontario.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 8, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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