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Army facility enters battle against COVID in Canada

Army facility enters battle against COVID in Canada

Army facility enters battle against COVID in Canada

17 February 2021

The Salvation Army’s Toronto Grace Health Centre CEO Jake Tran (left) discusses plans relating to the transformation of the Toronto Congress Centre with Glenn Gosling-Cannell, the coordinator of the government’s Emergency Medical Assistance Team, which is helping the Army with designs, permits and contractor coordination for the project.

By Darryl Whitecross

The Salvation Army’s Toronto Grace Health Centre (TGHC) in Canada has set up a specialised-care super centre as confirmed cases of COVID-19 and deaths from the virus persist in Ontario.

COVID-19 super centre staff outside the makeshift wards created inside the Toronto Congress Centre to care for vulnerable elderly clients.

Jake Tran, TGHC President and Chief Executive Officer, said the facility, run in conjunction with the Ontario Government, had been set up in Toronto Congress Centre (TCC) to treat the most vulnerable.”

Usually a meeting and trade show complex, the TCC was originally transformed into a 30-bed facility in December inside a 2510sq metre area to provide care for long-term residents of care homes from the Greater Toronto Area.

Jake said the initial provision of 30 beds was not enough so, an expansion was needed to accommodate the growing need. He said that on February 8, an additional 20 beds were opened.

“Every week thereafter we will open an additional 20 beds until we reach 80 beds with provision to reach 129 beds,” Jake said.

Despite the need to accommodate growing numbers, “we have been able to manage the site well,” Jake added. 

The opening of the extra beds comes as the Canadian Government introduces new measures to tackle the spread of the COVID-19 virus, especially contagious variants of the novel coronavirus.

Government figures say more than 3000 new cases of people contracting the virus each day across Canada with more than 1000 of those in Ontario.

Jake said that, from a critical care perspective, the highest number of patients in intensive care units in Ontario during what he termed “Wave I” of the pandemic was 270. It had reached 410 so far in “Wave II”

The layout inside the Toronto Grace Health Centre COVID-19 supercentre.

TGHC, which is working in partnership with the Canadian Ministry of Health, the University Health Network and Compass Canada food and environmental services, secured the necessary medical, clerical and support services staff for the facility.

The facility is to provide surge capacity for long-term care homes that are managing a COVID-19 outbreak or experiencing other challenges in their facility such as crowding, shortage of staff, lack of supplies or other outbreaks of disease, such as influenza. 

Jake said the centre’s physicians, nurses, personal support workers, therapists and staff were highly experienced in caring for the elderly who would be looked after in the new facility.

“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,” Jake said. “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.” 

The climate-controlled and air-conditioned Specialised Care Centre also gives residents access to therapy rooms. The length of stay is expected to vary for each resident, depending on individual needs and the unfolding situation in their long-term care home.

Part of the Toronto Congress Centre being area being transformed by The Salvation Army into a special COVID-19 care super centre.

Lieut-Colonel John Murray, chair of the TGHC board of trustees and Secretary for Communications for The Salvation Army in Canada and Bermuda, said the Army was pleased to be able to work with government and Ontario health agencies to provide “urgent care for seniors and vulnerable people.” “We will continue to be on the frontlines of service,” he said. 

Dr Merrilee Fullerton, the Canadian Government’s Minister of Long-Term Care, said that, by working closely with all of stakeholders in the process, “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”.

Additional information compiled by IHQ Communications using reports from the Government of Ontario via


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