Ontario is making some changes to patient care in the province’s hospitals as it tries to keep up with the soaring number of COVID-19 patients being treated. 

Hospitals can now transfer patients whose doctors have determined they no longer require hospital care to long-term care or retirement homes without getting the consent of the patient or those who make decisions for them. 

Health Minister Christine Elliot said the amended order can only be used during major surge events where the demand for critical care threatens to overwhelm a hospital and compromise care. 

Elliot said hundreds of individuals in hospitals are waiting to be discharged to a long-term care home or another more appropriate care setting and first priority will be given to patients with less complex care needs and those who are able to be moved close to their preferred choice.

Transfers will only be made when medical professionals are confident they will not compromise the patient’s medical condition, and where all of the other conditions specified within the order have been met including agreement by the home that they can meet the patient’s needs. 

She added that patients who are not placed in their first choice of home will retain their priority on the long-term care waitlist for their preferred choice.

Elliott said every effort will be made to ensure these patients are fully immunized from COVID-19 before moving.