Scarborough long-term care home grappling with COVID-19 outbreak reports 13 more deaths

Thirteen more residents have died from COVID-19 since Wednesday at a long-term care home in Scarborough, Ont., that’s grappling with a major outbreak.

As of Saturday, 116 residents and 77 staff members at Tendercare Living Centre have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total confirmed cases to 193, North York General Hospital said in a statement.

The hospital said all staff members that have tested positive at the home are now in isolation.

Physicians and family members raised concerns about conditions at the home earlier this week. They claimed residents were not receiving enough water or medication due to a lack of staff. That’s when North York General was asked to step in to help control the spread of COVID-19 at the home.

On Wednesday, Tendercare reported 26 deaths linked to the illness. The total currently sits at 39 following the additional 13 deaths announced Saturday.

“North York General is committed to supporting Tendercare to successfully resolve the outbreak and reduce the impact of this terrible virus on the residents and staff at the home,” Karyn Popovich, interim president and CEO at North York General Hospital, said in a statement on Saturday.

“Our expert team of physicians, nurses and other professionals are already enhancing patient care and providing infection control oversight, support and education.”

There have been 39 deaths linked to COVID-19 at the home as of Saturday. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Before the hospital stepped in, Scarborough Health Network provided testing assistance, clinical case and physician support at Tendercare.

Since then, a senior manager from North York General was appointed to oversee the outbreak response and additional physicians were assigned to the facility to help manage the situation.

The hospital also said it’s brought on an additional team of housekeepers and environmental cleaning staff to deep-clean the entire facility.

“In addition to training and ensuring adherence to best practices, every effort is being made to separate residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 from those who do not have the virus,” the hospital said in a statement.

Francis Martis, Tendercare’s executive director, said the outbreak has been hard to manage when case rates in the area are particularly high.

“A COVID-19 outbreak is extremely difficult to mitigate when case rates in the surrounding community are high. Tendercare has been hard-hit by the virus and as a result, a significant number of staff are infected and have been forced to isolate,” Martis said.

North York General Hospital says there is currently ‘intensive effort’ underway to recruit additional nursing, personal support workers and other needed staff. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Martis said the home reached out to surrounding hospitals, Ontario Health and staffing agencies for additional resources in order to support resident care.

“Our teams will be collaborating with the physicians, clinicians and infection control experts provided by North York General Hospital to clear the virus from our home as quickly as possible, while reducing the current pressures on our staff as they work to care for our residents,” Martis said. 

“Our responsibility to our residents and the people who love them is paramount.”

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