Military personnel of the canadian armed Forces at work in Montreal, Tuesday
May 27, 2020 11.07
Updated at 18h41
Soldiers in a CHSLD in Quebec testify to the beautiful and the less beautiful
The Canadian Press
MONTREAL – the beautiful and The less beautiful. Soldiers of the canadian army who work in a ltc facility in Montreal for the past three weeks have seen a lot of things: the dirt, the pain and body bags, but also the joy and the peace on the faces of the seniors as they came to help.
The canadian Press has met on Monday afternoon, two days before the army submits its report on the CHSLD in quebec. If this report summarizes the difficulties encountered on the ground, the soldiers, themselves, offered a testimony of what they saw – with their own eyes.
READ ALSO : The soldiers have experienced things exceptionally difficult in NURSING homes
The military have passed through the doors of the CHSLD Vigi Mont-Royal, one of those considered to be the most contaminated in Quebec, on the 1st of may: on this day, the balance sheet showed 196 residents with COVID-19.
Some of them showed at the beginning of may apprehensive about what they would find inside. Others were quite confident: you are well trained and we know what to do, they said so when The canadian Press met for the first time.
Finally, what they have seen at the beginning of the month of may was not the chaos.
“We expected a more difficult situation than what we saw. It was expected that they (the residents) are worse than what we had been told,” said the corporal Nicholas Gagnon, met Monday in front of the tents green of the army assembled in the parking lot of the NURSING homes.
Obviously, there was a lack of staff on the floors, he said. Many patients were bed-ridden. “We saw immediately that people had needs.”
“It was hard to see it. We will not hide things,” said the big guy, in full battle dress, who is a medical technician within the 5th field ambulance in the army.
To see people who have basic needs that are not met, “it is something that captures the imagination”.
“We immediately set to the task”, he said. Which means giving a glass of water, brush teeth, change diapers, he explained.
He is particularly proud to have been able, with the soldiers, the soldiers and staff of the CHSLD, gather some residents in a common room so they could eat together.
As soon as his fourth day in the NURSING homes, “quickly, we have seen the result on their morale”.
This has been made possible because there was suddenly more arms for moving the residents, help them to walk or push their wheelchairs.
And also disinfect the room.
It was one of the responsibilities of the army teams of the day.
If the medical staff consisting of the army (medical technicians and nurses) could give care to the residents, the soldiers and soldiers have a lot of clean-up work.
In this way, the employees and the nurses were able to focus on giving care to seniors, “a priority”, said the corporal-chef Jean-Philippe Ménard. “Because they were so busy.”
“It was very messy. The garbage bags of clothes, everything was full, it piled up.”
Unimaginable, he said. “I wouldn’t be able to live there.”
“We “clairé” the bins,” said the officer, who normally operates the cannons, tanks, and washed the floors, cleaned rooms and bathrooms, set up green zones for the staff.
But at the end of may, it would really be better at NURSING, they said: employees who were absent because of sick, are all in the process of returning to work.
This is the 12th armoured regiment of Canada, based in Valcartier, near Quebec city, which is responsible for the logistics at the CHSLD Vigi Mont-Royal. Reservists are also part of the soldiers who volunteered to help, as members of the Voltigeurs de Québec, an infantry regiment.
Corporal Gagnon emphasizes that their work has been greatly facilitated by the staff of the CHSLD and the Institute of cardiology of Montreal, also came in for reinforcement.
On Wednesday, the army reported that 39 military came to help in residences for seniors have been infected by the COVID-19, 24 in Quebec.
But none of them have been at the CHSLD Vigi Mont-Royal, say the soldiers.
And even knowing that co-workers have been infected, they do not fear for themselves: the army has provided them with the necessary equipment and showed them how to protect themselves properly.
And the death?
The soldiers interviewed were not witnesses of the death.
“People would die especially at night,” said the corporal-chef Jean-Philippe Ménard, who has seen body bags “from”.
Corporal Gagnon said to have lived “the deaths indirectly”: “when we came on our shift, we saw that people were no longer there”.
“It was sad. It was thought to the families, has he entrusted to you. But we also lived it with the feeling of duty accomplished.” He will keep with him the pride of having raised my hand for help from the beginning, and a wealth of medical experience.
And then, his medical training has helped him to stay focused on the task at hand. “You could gather a little inside of ourselves, but the duty continues and you had to go and give care to others.”
The residents were surprised to see new faces. Some were surprised, but not worried. They showed the joy and appeasement, said the corporal.
“We saw a lot of smiles”, a summary of the soldier Louis Émond of the Voltigeurs de Québec.
If the situation came out all the same of the ordinary for an infantryman, he did not hesitate: “we’re going to help in other countries, so why not here?”
For him, the deployment of the army showed how the soldiers helped each other and worked well together. Something that bodes well for their next mission, he says.
Corporal Menard reported that she heard people screaming in pain: “I found it hard”.
But he says that he will remember this experience throughout her life. “To links created with the local residents, the people they met”, he said.
He speaks of Joyce, on the third floor.
A lady who likes to do all by itself, but cannot always.
“I washed his room. She cried. It, it came looking for me.”
And then Nassim on the second floor. “Always in a good mood and loved to chat.”
“Maybe one day I’ll be able to come back to see. Say a quick hello,” he said, eyes smiling.