Canada, or the United States: the dilemma of the nursing border facing the virus

Canada ou États-Unis: le dilemme des infirmiers frontaliers face au virus

Canada ou États-Unis: le dilemme des infirmiers frontaliers face au virus

“This is not the time to create divisions between our two countries”, abounds Steve Homick, a Canadian who works in the emergency department of another branch of the hospital Beaumont near Detroit.

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May 12, 2020 17h04

Updated at 22h51

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Canada, or the United States: the dilemma of the nursing border facing the virus

AFP

Agence France-Presse

TORONTO — In the midst of the epidemic of COVID-19, Nikki Hillis-Walters, a canadian nurse working in Michigan and Ontario, has been asked to choose : to work in his country or in the United States, where the coronavirus, wreaks havoc.

She chose the United States : “I was needed there,” she explains to the AFP.

As it is, about 2000 personal health canadians of the Windsor region, a city in southern Ontario, working in hospitals in Detroit.

Fearing cross-contamination, some Ontario hospitals have been asked to a few dozens of employees on both sides of the border to choose, the time of the crisis, in which countries work.

Despite the risks, Nikki Hillis-Walters, who was the week in Canada and on the weekends in the United States, has chosen his position to the intensive care unit of the hospital Beaumont Grosse Pointe, east Detroit.

“I had already understood how much it was going to be serious when we were asked to choose,” explains the nurse of 38 years. “Colleagues were infected, many patients arrived at the hospital.”

The ultimatum of canadian hospitals, has been criticised by some caregivers are seeing, in addition to the financial losses, a measure ineffective, and as an injunction to choose between canadian patients and american.

“It was not to choose one side rather than another. Because in the end, working there to help the sick and prevent the virus from spreading, I also chose Canada,” says Nikki Hillis-Walters, married to an American. “It was what was better to do for the two countries.”

Windsor and Detroit are only a few minutes drive of one another. The agglomeration of Michigan and its approximately four million inhabitants, offer a lot more opportunities than southern Ontario. Caregivers canadians are also lured by good wages, doubled the exchange rate is generally favourable.

“It was not to choose one side rather than another. Because in the end, working there to help the sick and prevent the virus from spreading, I also chose Canada ”


Nikki Hillis-Walters

“Just my work”

These caregivers, many of whom are nurses, are today at the forefront in the fight against the coronavirus that has killed more than 80,000 people in the United States, the most affected country in the world.

Alone, Michigan has almost the same number of victims as the whole of Canada, with more than 4,000 deaths.

To contain the contagion, the two countries decided in march to close their border, the longest in the world, with 8900 km, except for the transport of goods and the essential workers — like the nurses of Windsor.

At the beginning of April, they are found in spite of themselves at the heart of a controversy between the two great neighbors after that Donald Trump was ordered to the american company 3M to keep its production of N95 masks for the United States — and no longer export to Canada.

The dispute has been resolved, but the output protectionist, the american president was outraged Canadians who were, like the prime minister, Justin Trudeau, at which point the hospitals of Detroit “depended on” caregivers canadian.

If the words of the american president have made that leap, Drew Dilkens, mayor of Windsor, has never ceased to advocate to maintain the flow of workers to Detroit.

“We can’t turn our backs on our neighbours when they are going through a crisis,” he told AFP. “For us, Detroit is like our backyard. The border is an imaginary line. And the people of Detroit would be there for us if we had need.”

“This is not the time to create divisions between our two countries”, abounds Steve Homick, a Canadian who works in the emergency department of another branch of the hospital Beaumont near Detroit.

While he has just lived the most intense weeks of his young career, the nurse of 30 years, keep in mind the signs of friendship between the two neighbors. As these us customs officers who greet him when he passes through the tunnel, today nearly deserted, connecting Windsor to Detroit.

“They are grateful for people to come and help,” he says. “They often say thank you, even if it is not necessary, because I’m just doing my job”.

Le Soleil

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