A long-term care (LTC) home in Scarborough has been taken over by North York General Hospital after 43 residents have died and almost 200 cases of COVID-19 were reported at the facility.
According to a letter sent to families of the Tendercare Living Centre on McNicoll Avenue obtained by CityNews, 128 residents at the home have COVID-19 and another 69 staff members are in isolation at home after testing positive.
In an update provided by North York General on Monday, it said more than 20 residents and 34 staff members have since recovered, bringing the total number of cases to 107 for residents and 43 staff.
The letter says there is an immediate need for nurses in the home, but personal support workers are available in “sufficient numbers” and physicians staffing levels are “strong.”
Primary care physicians and specialists from North York General Hospital are “providing medical and personal care to residents and working hard to connect with family members to discuss their loved ones’ situation.”
However, Steve Eng, whose mother-in-law currently resides at Tendercare, has heard a different story.
Eng says they found out on Dec. 20 from a doctor at Scarborough Hospital – Grace Campus, who had gone into the home to check on residents, that she had tested positive for COVID-19 on Dec. 13.
He called them personally to give an update on her condition and at that point, she was asymptomatic.
Since then, they haven’t received an update from the home, other than emails sent to about the number of people who have tested positive.
His mother-in-law has advanced Alzheimer’s, is bedridden and can’t speak. Eng says they have yet to hear directly from Tendercare about her current condition despite daily calls to the home and nursing station. He says they have no idea the level of care she is receiving.
“Are we going to get a call that’s ‘We have some bad news for you.’ Is that the only call they are going to make? That is unacceptable,” Eng says.
Eng says families of residents who live there have started a WhatsApp group to communicate about what they have heard what’s going on in the home. Some of the residents have told their families that the nurses say they need more help.
“[They are saying] everything is adequate, but staff inside are saying it’s not adequate. Where’s the disconnect there?” Eng asks.
He says he wants to see the province take action and call in the Armed Force or Red Cross, like what was done during the first wave, to ensure there is staffing available.
Eng says all they’ve heard is there are close to 70 workers at home isolating with COVID-19.
“Who replaced them? There’s 70 less workers,” adds Eng.
The Ministry of Long-term Care said they are “deeply concerned” about the situation at Tendercare Living Centre and said it approved the Voluntary Management Contract on Dec. 25 that allowed North York General to provide support for the home for the next 90 days.
They added the Scarborough Health Network began providing clinical support on Dec. 9 when the outbreak was declared.
“We are grateful for the work and support that the teams from the local public health unit, the local health integration network, Scarborough Health Network, North York General Hospital and others are providing to the home,” read the statement.
According to the Ontario COVID-19 website, there are currently 1,146 active COVID-19 cases in residents and 990 staff cases in 163 homes across the province.
A total of 2,596 LTC home residents have died since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.