After coming down with a high fever in March 2020, Mrs. Choy, an 82 year old resident at Kensington Gardens Long Term Care home, was tested and diagnosed with COVID-19. She was immediately moved to a nearby hospital to stabilize her condition and, four days later, returned home to Kensington Gardens to recover in strict isolation.
“It was awful,” she says. “I was so sick; I could barely move. I couldn’t sit up. I just wanted to feel better.” During that time, Mrs. Choy says she mostly slept and prayed, leaning on her Christian faith to get her through and relying on daily phone calls from her daughter, who encouraged her to stay strong.
After two weeks of intense illness and quarantine, Mrs. Choy’s fever finally broke and she was on her way to recovery. She remembers the day when her quarantine was finally lifted, “Everyone was coming by my door to say congratulations! They were so happy for me.”
“My family came to visit me, and they called me on the phone from the parking lot. I was able to go to the window to see them. I was so happy, I cried,” she says. “My son told me that I just needed to focus on getting better and that I still had things to do! So that’s what I did.”
But, having been bed-ridden and immobile for months, Mrs. Choy could barely sit, let alone stand or walk – things that she had been able to do with ease before getting sick. Luckily for Mrs. Choy, staff from Women’s College Hospital had been redeployed to Kensington Gardens to help support the facility during their COVID-19 outbreak, and to help staff care for residents during the height of the pandemic.
Hari Nair was one of the Women’s College Hospital staff members who was redeployed as a physiotherapy assistant to Kensington Gardens as part of the hospital’s redeployment efforts and unique role as the facility’s hospital resources partner. A Registered Physiotherapist at Women’s College Hospital’s Toronto Academic Pain Management Institute (TAPMI), Hari quickly went to work supporting residents, including Mrs. Choy, with regaining their mobility following the intense isolation and weeks of immobility.
“There were patients like Mrs. Choy who had been quite active and mobile before being quarantined due to the pandemic,” says Hari. “So, I was determined to help them regain that mobility and sense of independence once they had recovered. Together, we would work to improve range of motion and strengthen the lower limbs, slowly over time. Eventually, we would begin to see results and the residents would start to feel like themselves again.”
Mrs. Choy says working with Hari, as well as the wonderful and caring staff at Kensington Gardens, was instrumental in her recovery. “Hari was so kind and patient. We started with a little peddle machine and I could only do two minutes with his help. Then, slowly, we worked up to longer and longer, until I could walk all the way down the hall to the dining room without a break!”
Hari says Mrs. Choy’s recovery was celebrated by many of her neighbors and the staff at Kensington Gardens, “She brought so much positivity and cheer to the dining room when she was finally able to return,” he says. “She transformed the atmosphere there and her resilience is such a testament to what one can achieve in the face of crisis. And, there are many other patients who overcame dire and abjectly hopeless situations – patients I had the privilege of supporting throughout the pandemic.”
As the ongoing hospital resource partner, Women’s College Hospital continues to work closely with Kensington Gardens LTC staff to review the ever-changing needs of the facility and to support staff and management where appropriate.
You can support Women’s College Hospital’s ongoing redeployment efforts in response to COVID-19 by making a donation to the COVID-19 Response Fund, or calling 416-323-6323.