TORONTO -- Some families of residents at a Toronto long-term care home embroiled in one of the province’s worst COVID-19 outbreaks protested outside the facility Sunday afternoon.

“Every second counts now. We are asking for basic care, food, water, nutrition,” Clorie Ng said, whose 88-year-old mother lives at Tendercare Living Centre in Scarborough and tested positive Christmas Day. “Are we giving up on our seniors because they are weak? We are all going to die, but we want to die with dignity.”

The frustration comes as 41 residents have now died due to COVID-19, at least 128 residents remain infected, and 69 staff members who have tested positive are now in isolation. The numbers were provided in a statement issued by North York General Hospital (NYGH).

According to the province, the 256 bed-facility was taken over by NYGH on Christmas Day.

“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,” said Karyn Popovich, interim president and CEO at the hospital.

In a statement, the press secretary for Ontario’s Long-Term Care Minister, Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, told CTV News Toronto Sunday that the ministry and all of its health sector partners are continuing to work together to help the home stabilize the outbreak.

“To be clear, the Scarborough Health Network started providing infection prevention control and clinical support on December 9, the day after the outbreak was declared. The new Voluntary Management Contract with North York General Hospital is just the latest action we have taken.”


The secretary said health partners are improving infection control measures, shoring up staffing and ensuring adequate supplies of personal protective equipment.

Tiffany Pan found out her mother, Jenny Pan, a resident with late-stage Alzheimer's, tested positive Dec. 13.

“She was a very active and fashionable lady most of her life so moving her to the home was really difficult for me and I’m the only child so it’s hard,” Pan said.

Initially, the family was told that the 84-year-old was asymptomatic, but said Saturday afternoon that they hadn’t got a hold of anyone for an update in over a week.


“No new information on how residents are doing. Whether they are getting fed or not. All that information is missing. It’s a problem,” said Steve Eng, Pan’s husband. “Get more help in. Staff it to the way it was pre-COVID with enough staff to take care of all residents.”

Yesterday, NYGH said a senior manager is overseeing outbreak response and stabilization at the facility as more physicians have been brought in to treat patients. There is also an intensive effort underway to recruit nurses and personal support workers (PSWs), the hospital says.

NYGH said other public health measures include an additional team of housekeepers and cleaning staff to deep clean the facility, and education and training for staff and physicians working at the home.

“Every effort is being made to separate residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 from those who do not have the virus, in accordance with public health protocols,” said a hospital spokesperson.

Extendicare, which operates Tendercare, said it will keep in contact with the hospital and the facility to identify areas where it can provide assistance and will provide support including additional staff as it has over the previous weeks.

NYGH said the home’s leadership is working to contact each family affected by COVID-19.

On Christmas Eve, Jessica Wong learned her grandmother, 82-year-old Jean Wan Cheung, tested positive.

She said she was able to connect with Cheung through a video call on Saturday.

“She told us she wasn’t feeling well. She wasn’t able to articulate how she wasn’t feeling well. We can see she wasn’t mentally all there, she kept knocking on one of the walls with her hands constantly, it’s bruising because of the knocking,” Wong said.

TendercareSome families tell CTV News Toronto that cases spiked rapidly over the last two weeks--and they want to see more medical teams or the military help step in.

Wong says she’s in a text message chat group with people who have loved ones inside the home.

“There’s just not enough bodies. There is no one who’s taking care of the residents who are positive. They are having a hard time breathing, a hard time feeding themselves,” said Wong.

An NYGH spokesperson said Sunday that there is an immediate need for more nurses at the home and that the entire Ontario health care system is under major strain as cases of COVID-19 climb. The spokesperson also said there is very high demand for health professionals across the system and finding additional staff is very difficult for all organizations at this time.

“There continues to be challenges to boost staffing levels above baseline to manage the outbreak effectively.”

“Physician staffing levels at Tendercare are strong and we are grateful for the physicians across Toronto and beyond who have stepped up to support the staff at the home and care for residents. Primary care physicians and specialists from North York General Hospital and the community are on site every day in addition to the physicians already affiliated with the long- term care home.”

“Currently, PSWs are available in sufficient numbers in the home and play a key role in meeting personal care needs, monitoring and providing social interaction with the residents.”