This Etobicoke tenant is asking why former acute care patients are being moved into his building

Tenants in a west end apartment complex are concerned for their health and safety after a non-profit support agency began using the building to house seniors transitioning out of acute hospital care, and they say they're getting no answers from property management.

Tenants say they've been demanding answers for 6 months with no response

Ronald Giblin says he did not receive a response when he contacted property management about patients transitioning out of acute care hospitals moving into suites in his building. (CBC)

Some tenants living in an Etobicoke apartment building have concerns about their health and safety after discovering their property management company rented out units to an agency providing care to clients transitioning from hospitals to their homes or long-term care facilities. 

Ronald Giblin, who has lived at Widdicombe Place at Eglinton Avenue West and Kipling Avenue for 11 years, says he and other tenants have been trying to get answers for the last six months since the clients first moved in. 

He said they were tipped off when hospital beds started arriving at the building. 

"That was a concern," said Giblin. "We've gone to the building managers. There was no response." 

Overcrowding

After doing some research, the group of concerned tenants eventually found out their new neighbours were clients of ESS Support Services, a not-for-profit community support agency predominantly serving seniors.

In the case of Widdicombe place, ESS confirmed it received funding from the Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) to provide short-term care to a number of people who no longer require acute care in local hospitals and are either waiting for space in a long-term care facility or are preparing to return home. 

'We've gone to the building managers. There was no response.' - Ronald Giblin

In October 2017, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care announced a plan to create 1,200 more beds for patients in Ontario hospitals to tackle overcrowding. That plan included creating 503 transitional care spaces outside of hospitals for up to 1,700 patients, in which Widdicombe Place played a part. 

Giblins says he's concerned about the spread of infectious diseases in the building, considering many tenants like himself are elderly. 

"What procedures are in place to contain that?" he said. "If [building management] wanted to be transparent, [they] would have held a general meeting at the very beginning ... and addressed concerns." 

Management declined info sessions

It turns out ESS Support Services did offer to host meetings. 

"From the very beginning, we have been making offers to the building to host information sessions for the tenants," said Catherine Grenaway, director of client services for ESS.

"The building management has declined that offer." 
Widdicombe Place has several units that are used as transitional spaces for patients leaving hospitals and preparing to move into long-term care facilities.

CBC Toronto requested an interview with Realstar Management, the company that manages the building, but it did not respond. 

"I think it would be OK if we all knew we were being protected," said Giblin. 

Grenaway says her agency workers follow all health and safety protocols, including daily sanitization of spaces in use with a medical grade disinfectant, safe food handling, proper disposal of waste products and proper handling of laundry. 

The Toronto Central LHIN confirmed to CBC Toronto it's "aware of the complaint brought forward by a group of tenants at Widdicombe Place and ESS is working with the building's management company to address the concerns." 

It also said public health, the municipal licensing office and Toronto Fire Services have recently done on-site inspections.

About the Author

Lisa Xing

Lisa Xing is a journalist by trade and a historian by degree. She's also a creative writer, photographer and traveller, dabbling in camping, canoeing and crafting. Email Lisa.Xing@cbc.ca.