Rekai Centres CEO: ‘Thank you can never be enough’

More than 70 members of TeamUHN stepped forward to take a shift at Rekai Centres following an email from Dr. Kevin Smith, UHN President & CEO, asking for volunteers. (Photo: UHN)

More than 50 shifts were covered by staff from UHN this past weekend as they went to work at the Rekai Centres, two long-term care facilities in downtown Toronto hit hard by a COVID-19 outbreak.

Nurses, physicians, support staff and members of the UHN leadership team were all on hand to provide care and comfort to the residents of Rekai and to help the staff of the centres as they care for 276 residents at the two facilities.

“We are so grateful for the support, encouragement and skill of the people at UHN who chose to come and help us through this outbreak,” says Susan Graham-Nutter, CEO of Rekai Centres.  “Many of our staff became ill, others chose not to come in and we were facing an almost impossible situation.

“Our residents are our family and to see them so ill without appropriate support was heartbreaking.  What seemed impossible turned into something I’ll never forget as I saw the willingness of others to come, help, take on all tasks, and embrace the needs of our patients.

“Thank you can never be enough.”

Group in lighter green scrubs

“We are so grateful for the support, encouragement and skill of the people at UHN who chose to come and help us through this outbreak,” says Susan Graham-Nutter, CEO of Rekai Centres. (Photo: UHN)

The work started on Thursday after the call went out on Wednesday night to hospital CEOs in Toronto, who were asked to help support long-term care facilities in outbreak.

The Rekai Centres were partnered with UHN, and Drs. Brian Hodges and Joy Richards and Diana Elder quickly pulled together a group to determine what was needed and ensure that UHN provided the appropriate help.  A request for volunteers from Dr. Kevin Smith, UHN’s President & CEO, meant that more than 70 people stepped forward for an assignment at the RekaiCentres.

UHN has now provided Infection Prevention and Control support, provision of personal protective equipment, and staffing in the form of volunteer nurses, physicians and support staff.

All of the people who have stepped forward know that they will be bathing, feeding and providing comfort to the residents of Rekai and supporting the Rekai staff who have been working throughout the nights and days to provide care to their residents.

Two CEOs – Sue of Rekai and Kevin Smith

Sue Graham-Nutter, CEO of Rekai Centres, and Dr. Kevin Smith, UHN President & CEO, on the job over the weekend. (Photo: UHN)

“I am so proud of TeamUHN,” says Dr. Smith, who worked at Rekai on Saturday.  “We have worked hard to provide care within UHN to patients with COVID-19 on our general medicine units and our ICUs.

“This has not overwhelmed us and so now we are working with the Rekai Centre.

“The residents of these homes are our parents, aunts and uncles and friends – the people who built this country.  In coming together in this way the members of TeamUHN are demonstrating their care, compassion and heart.  There are so many people from TeamUHN to thank and I will be doing that personally.”

The relationship between UHN and the Rekai Centres will continue for as long as is necessary.

The efforts of UHN staff at Rekai Centres drew huge media attention over the weekend, with stories appearing on the TV newscasts of CBC, CTV, Global and City-TV on Saturday and the front page of Sunday’s Toronto Star.

snapshot of Star front page

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