Kew Beach Unit on Kingston Road provides transitional care program for Michael Garron Hospital patients

VHA Home HealthCare and Michael Garron Hospital launched the Kew Beach Unit, a transitional care program located at 500 Kingston Rd., during the COVID-19 pandemic. The unit runs at the site of the Atrium at Kew Beach retirement residence site. Photo by Alan Shackleton.

By AMARACHI AMADIKE, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

In 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic began to take a toll on Ontario’s healthcare system, hospitals including East York’s Michael Garron saw an increase in patients being admitted.

To help alleviate some of the pressures on the medical system, Michael Garron Hospital (MGH) and VHA Home HealthCare launched the Kew Beach Unit, a transitional care program located on Kingston Road that, at the time, could hold 20 patients.

The off-site hospital wing was intended to be a temporary addition providing much needed beds and services to residents in need. However, the site is still operating today and functioning at a much more efficient and productive pace than when it began.

Located at the former Atrium at Kew Beach retirement home at 500 Kingston Rd. (just west of Lee Avenue), the Kew Beach Unit now has enough beds for 80 patients. The facility also has 110 staff members who provide coordinated, integrated care for alternate level of care (ALC) patients.

“Patients who are coming from Michael Garron Hospital may no longer require acute medical interventions but may still not be fully fit to go home,” said Glendon Flint, Director of Strategic Projects and Initiatives at VHA.

“So they are transferred here where they are supported with around-the-clock nursing, personal support, rehab and other services to help maintain their quality of life and recuperate so that they’re ready to be discharged,” said Flint.

The Kew Beach Unit is part of a collaborative initiative by East Toronto Health Partners (ETHP). Along with MGH and VHA Home Healthcare, WoodGreen Community Services also provides support for the program.

WoodGreen, which serves 37,000 people each year with integrated programs, runs an Active Living Centre on-site at the Kew Beach Unit. They provide additional support such as exercise and falls prevention classes, educational workshops and social and recreational programming for seniors.

WoodGreen’s Active Living Centre, coupled with VHA’s physiotherapy, occupational therapy, social work, speech language therapy and dietetics, creates an environment that ensures quality service for East Toronto patients, said Flint.

On average, a patient may stay at Kew Beach Unit for 60 days although Flint said that this can range from a couple of weeks to more than 100 days, depending on patient needs.

The program’s success has been evident, and Flint told Beach Metro Community News that its growth is testament to the importance of the Kew Beach Unit to the community.

“It is broadly helping the healthcare system,” said Flint. “But why I love to go there each day is because you can see the individuals that it’s helping—the patients and their families.”

Although the program has proven its value, it is currently unclear whether it will become a permanent addition to MGH’s services.

“The way the Ministry of Health funds these things is they like to do things on a one-year basis,” said Flint. “They’re not very good at extending things permanently.”

Flint said that MGH is “strongly advocating” for the program to become a permanent investment but at the moment Kew Beach Unit will continue to function on one-year extensions until the Ministry of Health moves through its approval processes.

“I can’t imagine what would happen if this facility wasn’t there to support the hospital,” he said.

Amarachi Amadike is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for Beach Metro Community News. His reporting is funded by the Government of Canada through its Local Journalism Initiative.

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