As COVID-19 cases hit an all-time high in Ontario, Canada, The Salvation Army’s Toronto Grace Health Centre (TGHC) – in coordination with the Ontario government – has set up a temporary Specialised Care Centre at the Toronto Congress Centre, usually a meeting and trade show complex. The 30-bed site will be used to provide care for long-term care home residents in the Greater Toronto Area who must be temporarily relocated. With the initial provision of beds already filled, expansion is under way to accommodate the growing need, with a plan for 90 beds.
Working in partnership with the Canadian Ministry of Health, the University Health Network and Compass Canada food and environmental services, TGHC has transformed the 27,000 square-foot site, securing the necessary medical, clerical and support services staff. The Specialised Care Centre will provide surge capacity for long-term care homes that are managing a COVID-19 outbreak or experiencing other challenges in their facility. These could include crowding, shortage of staff, lack of supplies or other outbreaks of disease, such as influenza.
Jake Tran, President and Chief Executive Officer of TGHC, says: ‘Our physicians, nurses, personal support workers, therapists and staff have much experience and expertise in the care of seniors and are at the ready to provide care to long-term care home residents who may need to be transferred temporarily to the Specialised Care Centre. Our role in helping establish the Centre for long-term care residents comes from The Salvation Army’s experience and deep mission of service to Ontarians in times of need.’
He continues: ‘Given that we are looking after a fragile population, we’ve added comfort care measures, which include deploying The Salvation Army’s TGHC chaplaincy services to the site.’
When fully complete, the climate-controlled and air-conditioned Specialised Care Centre will provide up to 90 fully furnished spaces for residents, with access to therapy rooms. The length of stay will vary for each resident, depending upon individual needs and the unfolding situation in their long-term care home. The facility has 24-hour security in place, with full on-site nursing and personal support workers.
Lieut-Colonel John Murray, Chair of the TGHC board of trustees and Secretary for Communications for The Salvation Army in Canada and Bermuda, toured the site on 10 January 2021. ‘The Salvation Army is pleased to partner with government and Ontario health agencies to provide this urgent care for seniors and vulnerable people,’ he notes. ‘As the pandemic situation worsens, we will continue to be on the front lines of service.’
‘We are grateful to the Specialised Care Centre steering committee for its work to quickly establish these new surge capacity spaces for our long-term care residents,’ affirms Dr Merrilee Fullerton, the Canadian government’s Minister of Long-Term Care. ‘By working closely with all of our partners, we are committed to finding innovative solutions to help protect our loved ones as we continue our fight against the second wave of the virus.’
Compiled with reports from the Government of Ontario