Toronto

3 long-term care homes run by same company report total of 71 deaths from COVID-19

Three long-term care homes in Ontario that were the subject of a court hearing in Toronto on Wednesday have reported a combined total of 71 deaths of residents.

New deaths reported at Eatonville Care Centre, Anson Place Care Centre, Hawthorne Place Care Centre

A woman looks out her window at the Eatonville Care Centre in Toronto. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

Three long-term care homes in Ontario that were the subject of a court hearing in Toronto on Wednesday have reported a combined total of 71 deaths of residents.

Eatonville Care Home in Etobicoke has recorded 36 deaths, Anson Place Care Centre in Hagersville has recorded 27 deaths, while Hawthorne Place Care Centre in North York has recorded eight deaths. At Anson, 23 of the deaths are from its care home, while four are from its retirement home.

All three homes, which reported the latest deaths on Wednesday after 5 p.m. in emailed statements, are operated by Rykka Care Centres, an operating partner of Responsive Management Inc., based in Markham, Ont.

"We need to do better," Linda Calabrese, vice president of operations at Responsive Management Inc., said in a statement on Wednesday following the court hearing, which concerned an injunction sought by the union representing nurses working at the homes.

In court papers, the union is accusing the facilities of failing to protect their staff adequately.

We need to do betterLinda Calabrese, Responsive Management Inc.

But executive directors of all three homes said that they are in close contact with public health officials to ensure all infection prevention and control protocols are in place.

These measures include isolating all residents, providing meals in rooms only and checking residents for symptoms at least twice daily. All three also have increased cleaning.

Staff are screened at the start and end of their shifts and must wear personal protective equipment at all times.

At Eatonville, executive director Evelyn MacDonald said three nurses from the Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network have joined its staff to help the home manage the health of its residents. She said the home is continuing to recruit more staff.

Meanwhile, at Anson, executive director Lisa Roth said its long-term care home needs more staff.

"We are meeting the care needs of our residents, but additional staff would help us shore up our care and services in these challenging times. We have communicated our staffing challenges to various partners and to the community this past week," Roth said.

At Hawthorne, executive director Gail Coburn said Toronto Public Health has tested all residents for COVID-19.

Outside the Eatonville Care Centre, a body wrapped in a white sheet is rolled out on a stretcher, pushed by a woman dressed head-to-toe in protective gear. (Chris Mulligan/CBC)

Eatonville has 143 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and is awaiting six test results. Anson has 44 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 27 in its care home and 17 in its retirement home. Hawthorne has 48 confirmed cases.

Union alleges homes failed to isolate infected residents

The Ontario Nurses' Association filed court papers against the company on Friday, alleging the facilities failed to give nurses proper access to personal protective equipment (PPE) and did not effectively isolate residents infected with COVID-19. 

On Wednesday, the ONA asked an Ontario Superior Court judge to order the homes to comply with provincial infection prevention and control standards. Superior Court Justice Edward Morgan has reserved his judgment.

In the statement, Calabrese said the hearing was challenging.

"Today, we participated in a hearing related to the protections we have had in place for staff amid COVID-19 outbreaks. It is difficult to hear that some of our staff feel that we have not done everything possible to protect them throughout this crisis," she said.

A sign outside Anson Place Care Centre, in Hagersville, Ont. thanks front-line workers. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

But Calabrese added the company acquired all the PPE it needed to meet public health directives before the pandemic began. That PPE included 630,000 surgical masks, 39,600 gowns and 4,300 face shields.

"Despite the global shortage, we were successful in acquiring all the additional supplies we needed to manage through this pandemic," she said.

Staff at its homes are required to undergo infection control training, she said.

In a separate move from the ONA court action, the Services Employees International Union has asked the province to take over operations at the same three facilities.

Union president Sharleen Stewart has called their handling of the pandemic "pure negligence." 

While health officials have said community spread appears to be peaking, cases in long-term care continue to rise in Ontario.

With files from Jasmin Seputis, Sabrina Jonas, Nazima Walji

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