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96-year-old 'sweating to death' in Toronto long-term care room with no air conditioning, daughter says

The daughter of a 96-year-old woman says her mother is “sweating to death” in her long-term care home room in Toronto, which has had no air conditioning this week.

“This is the second summer this has happened,” Dorothea Biemann told CTV News Toronto. “They are going to die of heat stroke if something is not done.”

Her mother Theresia lives on the fourth floor of Tendercare Living Centre, located at 1020 McNicoll Ave in Scarborough. Her floor, called Moll Berczy Haus, is private and costs $3,500 per month. While Biemann says the staff on her mother’s floor are excellent, they're subject to the same conditions as Tendercare.

Last year, the Ontario government passed legislation requiring long-term care homes across the province provide air conditioning in all residence rooms by June. Fifteen per cent of homes have missed that deadline.

A spokesperson for Ontario’s Ministry of Long-Term Care told CP24 on Tuesday that 90 homes are lagging behind the government deadline. Of the homes not fully air-conditioned, 57 are for-profit, 25 are non-profit and eight are municipally operated.

Tendercare told CTV News Toronto that it is “in full compliance” with the Ontario Ministry of Long-Term Care’s requirements for air conditioning throughout the home.

However, the long-term care home’s executive director told CTV News Toronto they did experience a recent technical issue.

“Yesterday, there was a temporary technical issue with our central air condition which caused a portion of our AC system to malfunction,” Roxanne Adams said.

“During that time, we implemented cautionary protocols to ensure resident comfort and well-being, including enhanced resident temperature monitoring and use of functioning designated cooling zones for all visitors, residents and staff.”

Since then, Adams said the glitch has been repaired.

However, Biemann says her mother’s room, and entire floor, still has no air conditioning and hasn’t since Monday.

“My mother is sweating to death,” she said. “She called me and she said, “Dorothea, I’m so hot I don’t know what to do. I think I am going to pass out.”

Amidst a global heatwave that hasn't spared Toronto, Biemann says the temperature in her mother’s room, with windows that face the afternoon sun, was 27 degrees Celsius this week.

Since the home was built originally as a hotel, Biemann says none of the windows open in her mom’s room.

With her mother’s age and congestive heart failure, she sees reason for concern.

Just yesterday, Beimann said her mother got a fan in her room, which was formerly taken away due to pandemic-related rules.

“I asked my mom, ‘Did it make any difference?” Biemann said. “She said, ‘No, all it’s doing is blowing hot air around.’”

At the onset of the pandemic, Tendercare was forced to call on the military for support when nearly half of their residents tested positive for COVID-19 in an outbreak that saw more than 80 people die.

With files from CP24’s Cristina Tenaglia and CTV's Beth Macdonell. Top Stories

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