TORONTO -- A long-term care home in Toronto’s west end says that 25 of its residents have now died of COVID-19.

Eatonville Care Centre, located at Burnhamthorpe Road and The East Mall, confirmed the death toll from the virus at its facility Monday night.

There are now 49 confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the home and six test results are pending.

“Our residence anticipates reporting an increase in the number of reported positive cases over the coming weeks, as we have symptomatic, but not-yet confirmed COVID-19 residents at this time,” Executive Director Evelyn MacDonald said in a statement. “I want to assure the community that we have taken the same precautions with these residents, as with COVID-19 confirmed residents.”

She said the facility is working with public health “to manage this outbreak appropriately.”

Toronto Public Health confirmed Monday that they are working with the facility to manage the outbreak.

“We are aware that Eatonville Long-Term Care Home currently has a COVID-19 outbreak which has included resident deaths,” Toronto Public Health said in a statement. “We continue to work with them to ensure outbreak control measures are in place at this home.  We are actively investigating this COVID-19 outbreak at Eatonville Long-Term Care Home and these tragic deaths, and we will report on facts related to this matter as soon as the investigations are completed.”

In an update sent out to residents’ families yesterday, Eatonville reported that there were 14 deaths at the facility.

MacDonald attributed the sudden jump in deaths to changes in provincial testing criteria.

“Public Health has confirmed that nine residents who had previously passed away due to unknown causes, have now been attributed to COVID-19. This has been reflected in our reported total number of cases, but does not represent new deaths attributed to the virus,” she said in the statement.

Toronto Public Health noted that “numbers are constantly changing as situations evolve.”

Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa said earlier Monday that she is “very concerned” about COVID-19 outbreaks at the city’s long-term care homes.

She noted the “devastating impact on our parents, our grandparents and our loved ones.”

As of Monday, there were COVID-19 cases reported at 39 long-term care homes in the city.

Ontario health officials said Monday that they are considering more stringent rules for long-term care homes, such as restricting health care staff to working only at one facility.

Families looking for answers

Family members of a number of residents at the home told CP24 Monday that they’re concerned about the communication with the home and that they have questions about how the outbreak is being handled.

Terence van Dyke, whose father had been at Eatonville since January, said he awoke Saturday to a number of missed calls from the hospital. When he managed to call back, they told him that his father had been transferred to their care and was in grave condition. He received a call back less than an hour later to tell him that his father had developed pneumonia and a high fever and had passed away.

Van Dyke said he found out through the funeral home that his father had tested positive for COVID-19, but he still hasn’t had any communication from Eatonville.

“I just need answers,” van Dyke told CP24. “The manner in which I understood he was sent to the hospital and then subsequently to the funeral home with just a sweatshirt, there just seemed to be a lack of respect for my father, for me, my family. There’s no call at this point, there’s nothing. He’s just ‘another one’, and I just have a strong issue with that.

“I’m not blaming anybody, I know this is not something anybody can fix overnight. He’s probably a very good candidate for succumbing to the virus, but it’s just the manner in which this all took place.”

Van Dyke also questioned why his father wasn’t tested sooner, especially since he’d had a high fever two weeks ago.

Other family members also told CP24 that they have concerns around testing.

“My dad last week was having extreme lethargy and an upset stomach, but he had no fever, he didn’t have a cough. My mom doesn’t either,” said Jane Bayly, whose parents have been locked down in their room at Eatonville since mid-March.

Bayly said she was concerned because her father has Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and so she pushed for her parents to be tested, even though the home told her that they’re not receiving enough testing kits to test everyone.

She received the test results for her parents Sunday and they showed that both of them had tested positive.

“I’m just very concerned and I’m not really sure – since they’ve been completely quarantined for a complete month in their room with no access to any people at all except for the staff with PPE equipment – how they possibly got the virus,” Bayly said.  

She said she’s also concerned that the number of cases at the home is being underreported due to insufficient testing.

In her statement, MacDonald thanked residents, families and workers for their part in dealing with the situation.

“I want to thank the families of our residents for their patience and understanding,” she said. “These losses are felt by everyone and I understand that this is an extremely difficult and uncertain time for our community and for their loved ones. With that, I want to thank our front-line staff for their perseverance, dedication and compassionate care.”