In 1948, two Hungarian brothers, Paul and John Rekai, left for Paris to escape Soviet occupancy of their native country. Both brothers had worked at the Budapest Hospital where Paul was a member of the medical staff and John was a surgeon. From Paris, the two immigrated with their families in 1950 to Toronto. Upon receiving their medical accreditation, they converted an old house on Sherbourne St into a private hospital serving the needs of Toronto’s new immigrants.
The Rekai Hospital grew to a 32 bed facility and was named Central Hospital in 1957. Multicultural staff provided a unique service to anxious patients and their families who spoke only their native tongue. Different staff, from doctors to cleaners, were always available to provide translation in 30 languages because the Rekais strongly believed that medical care was neither effective nor humane when language and culture separated patients from caregivers. In addition to languages, there was also a commitment to serve patients with diets that were familiar to them, and so a menu was developed flavoured with international cuisine. Most importantly, when it came to planning the care for the patient, great consideration was given to his or her background and how their culture viewed illnesses and different healing practices. Central Hospital eventually expanded to 170 beds and was offered to the Province of Ontario to become one of the few truly multicultural public hospitals in Ontario
In 1988, the Central Hospital Foundation decided to extend their services to long term care, to provide care and comfort to elderly citizens who experience difficulties communicating in English. The Rekai Centres became the first multilingual, non-profit nursing home in Canada, adopting the same philosophy of care as its founders and was located adjacent to Central Hospital on Sherbourne.
Today The Rekai Centre at Sherbourne Place is a 126 bed long term care home regulated by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care and accredited by Accreditation Canada. Paul and John’s vision is very much alive today at The Rekai Centres. Staff and volunteers take special care to recognize the various cultural identities of residents while fostering a spirit of togetherness.
In 2005, on the site of the former Wellesley Hospital, the vision expanded to the new The Rekai Centre at Wellesley Central Place at the corner of Sherbourne and Wellesley. The Rekai Centre at Wellesley Central Place is a 150 bed long term care regulated by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care.
Today, between The Rekai Centre at Sherbourne Place and The Rekai Centre at Wellesley Central Place, 276 residents are cared for in a culturally sensitive milieu.
The Rekai Centres operates as two Long Term Care Homes in Downtown Toronto.
345 Sherbourne St, Toronto, Ontario, M5A 2S3
160 Wellesley St East, Toronto, Ontario, M4Y 1J2