Photo: Marie-France Coallier The Duty
Rosalee Fog, social worker (right), and Julie Lavoie, dental hygienist (left), in front of the CHSLD Petite-Patrie
Emptied of their functions to the peak of the pandemic, a dental hygienist and a social worker have made a change of career to become, at the time of the pandemic, the attentive ears of the staff of the CHSLD. Meeting.
The stress was palpable, the fatigue present, and fears were read in the eyes of the employees the first time that Julie Lavoie and Rosalee Fog have passed through the doors of the CHSLD Petite-Patrie, institution to which The Duty can be found. At the height of the crisis, 28 residents of the CHSLD-Petite-Patrie have been infected, 10 of whom are deceased.
“My usual clientele, these are from the kindergarten to the second year. What I do today, it is far from my daily life, ” says the dental hygienist, Julie Lavoie.
With the social worker Rosalee Fog, it will form a teams of psycho-social support implemented by the CIUSSS of the North-of-the Île-de-Montréal to support the staff of the CHSLD.
Expertise in infection control to the dental hygienist has been combined with the ability to listen and advice of the social worker. In less than a day, after a quick training, the duo has been sent on the ground, 2 April. They have divided their work week between the three institutions.
“When we arrived, there were many cases of COVID-19. He had to help the employees to adapt quickly, while managing their anxiety relative to the situation, so that it does not become foci of outbreaks, ” says Ms. Fog.
In this time of extraordinary crisis, their mandate is to assuage the fears of the staff, and especially to make them feel confident.
“There were a lot of questions because it should not be forgotten that a CHSLD, it is a living environment, this is not a hospital, people are not accustomed to working with masks. It was therefore necessary to change habits of work, and it had to be done quickly. There was no time to lose because they didn’t lose control, ” said Ms. Lavoie.
The duo has been witness to the dedication of the nurses, in charge to the beneficiaries and maintenance staff, who will be at the heart of their concerns the well-being of the residents.
“There were people who were afraid to step out of their house after their work shift. They are deprived to go for a walk or even go to the grocery store, to not take the risk to catch the virus because they wanted to continue caring for the residents, ” said Ms. Fog.
It was therefore necessary to convince the staff that, in spite of all precautions, the zero risk does not exist.
“I told them to keep in mind that this is a new virus and that, every day, one learns things one did not know at the start “, said Ms. Lavoie.
The port diligent use of protective equipment has also been synonymous with anguish for the staff of the institutions.
“Dental hygienists work in private practice and in public health. It still applies the methods of infection control, so it is sure that with the pandemic, for the rest of us, there is nothing new in wanting to control bacteria and viruses, it is part of our daily life, so for me, it was easy to bring together knowledge, reassure employees on it, ” says dr. Lavoie.
The pandemic is also coming to disrupt the process of mourning for the staff, which has developed strong links with the residents.
“Often, they tell us that, as health professionals, they know that by working in a CHSLD, the grief will be present, but the COVID-19 has accelerated the number of deaths,” says Ms. Fog. “It’s still a shock when they go to the end of the week and that on their return, the door of the room of a resident is closed because he died. “
In addition, there is the fatigue, which is more and more present and should be watched so that it does not lead to an exhaustion.
“I’ve seen people who, if there was nobody to replace them, does not leave. There are employees who have done a lot of hours, who have worked with their heart, these people are extraordinary “, said Ms. Lavoie.
When they feel the need is beyond the help they can provide, they direct employees to the employee assistance program which provides individual follow-up.
The women confide that they too have experienced difficult times. “It is sure that it comes in search of us when they tell us that they live out of exhaustion, that they are tired, but they continue anyway “, said Ms. Fog.
In the past weeks, the situation has stabilized, and a few wins on the horizon, giving hope to the employees, provides the duo. The CHSLD Petite-Patrie, there are more residents infected.
“We had a curve rising when it was not easy, but really, it goes really to the better,” said Ms. Lavoie, who stresses that, despite the context of a pandemic, it will be a rewarding experience.
It remains that, before this respite, uncertainty is always present. “The only crisis that was experienced is that of the ice, but we knew the end date, we knew that it was going to be back to normal, while here it is the unknown, it is necessary to accept that it could be like that for a while “, said Ms. Lavoie.
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