The union representing workers at a Scarborough long-term care home is calling on the provincial government to take over the facility, saying coronavirus cases have “exploded” in the building.
In a letter addressed to Premier Doug Ford’s office, the president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU)’s healthcare arm said the government should use the tools provided in the provincial emergency orders to take over the Guildwood long-term care home.
The emergency order, issued on May 13, allows the government to temporarily replace management at some long-term care homes struggling to contain COVID-19 outbreaks.
“On May 1, ten resident cases and one staff case were reported,” said Sharleen Stewart. “Today, COVID-19 figures exceed 96 positive resident cases, 24 resident deaths, and 16 staff cases.”
Stewart also alleged in the letter that some of the management team are infected with COVID-19 and the union is concerned there’s no management oversight at the home.
“We are hearing that several management representatives at this facility have also contracted COVID-19, and frankly, we don’t know who is in charge,” she said.
Stewart is also calling for a full public inquiry into long-term care homes.
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About 167 workers are represented by the union at the home, said Corey Johnson, head of strategic communication with SEIU.
Johnson said the company initially managed the situation well, but ran low on personal protective equipment (PPE) this month.
“It really exploded,” he said, referring to the number of cases in the building.
Johnson also said the staff was never properly trained on how to properly take-off or dispose of PPE, and that the company is “scrambling” to provide that training now.
He said the government needs to step in right away.
“The government enacted this order and it’s time they use it,” Johnson said.
The Guildwood facility, located on 60 Guildwood Parkway, is owned and operated by Extendicare, a private healthcare company.
In an emailed statement on Saturday, Extendicare regional director Nik Chandrabalan confirmed that some of the staff have not been able to work due to the outbreak at the home, including two managers.
“Replacement managers from other Extendicare locations have been brought in to fill their roles and we have hired 30 new staff to the home,” Chandrabalan said. “We also reached out to the Scarborough Health Network which is providing hospital staff to help us ensure that we meet the needs of our residents and maintain a safe working environment.”
He added that the company has been holding regular meetings about the situation.
“Families met yesterday with the management and clinical leaders in the home via Zoom, and future meetings are planned,” Chandrabalan said. “We are working closely with our partners at Public Health and the Scarborough Health Network to ensure a safe environment for our staff and residents.”
With files from The Canadian Press
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