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Celebrating Canada's 2SLGBTQI+ Communities

IN Community: "This Is A Time When We Should Agree to Help"

Staff at the Rekai Centres find themselves on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis…

By Jumol Royes

Our healthcare workers are our everyday heroes.

But at the Rekai Centres, a company that operates two long-term care homes in downtown Toronto where 20 per cent of the residents openly identify as LGBTQ2+, COVID-19 is taking its toll.

A letter addressed to the families of residents dated April 5 confirmed that one resident at Sherbourne Place had passed away and three others had tested positive for the virus; five residents at Wellesley Central Place were also diagnosed with COVID-19. Around the same time, an urgent call went out to find frontline workers as the facility struggled to fill empty shifts (both homes are currently in lockdown with residents being kept in their rooms).

Speaking to theToronto Star, Rekai Centres CEO Sue Graham-Nutter said, “I think overall people are afraid of being in homes with COVID. I can understand. It’s not easy.”

One of the people who stepped up to serve was Amal Tahil. She previously interned at the Rekai Centres while studying to become a registered practical nurse at George Brown College. While she’s not yet licensed to work as a nurse, she’s able to help residents with basic needs as a personal support worker.

“This is a time when we should agree to help,” Tahil said. “We need all the help we can get. We need hope and empathy.”

A few weeks after the first call for more assistance went out, 100 doctors, nurses and psychiatrists from University Health Network, which includes Toronto General, Toronto Western and Princess Margaret Hospitals, volunteered to work at the long-term care facility following a request from hospital CEO Dr. Kevin Smith.

It’s been said that “crisis doesn’t create character; it reveals it.” Our healthcare workers are proving this to be 100 per cent true.

If you’re interested in making an in-kind donation or arranging for the delivery of food for staff, email Sherbourne Place at reception@rekaicentres.comor call 416-964-1559; email Wellesley Central Place at recep-wcp@rekaicentres.comor call 416-929-0807.

To make a monetary donation, visit:

JUMOL ROYES is a Toronto-based storyteller and communications strategist with a keen interest in personal development and transformation and a love of all things Real Housewives. Follow him on Twitter @Jumol and on Instagram @jumolroyes.

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