Photo: Archives Le Devoir
Since the beginning of the epidemic, these professionals in emergency response do not skimp with the virus.
60 days after the first reported case of COVID-19 in Quebec, the lives of health care workers has changed all that. Despite the containment widespread, the virus continues its advance. In hospitals, the community, the outbreaks are increasing. Between small victories and large defeats, many think that the worst could have been avoided.
For the past six weeks, Nora Elblidi Gagnon no longer has the impression of being an ” angel “, but rather a cosmonaut when she climbs aboard his ambulance for Emergency Health care, to the relief of people in distress with the COVID-19.
Wrapped in its combination worthy of a David Saint-Jacques, the face covered in goggles and a half face mask to the tunes of diving equipment, the “helping relationship” of the “paramedic” has taken in recent times another turn in intervening with infected individuals.
“It’s scary ! insists Nora, the top of its 5-foot-2. We must shout through the mask, so that the people understand us. It is difficult to be reassuring to people in distress or their family. They do not see even more of our smiles or our faces ! It makes empathy more difficult. “
“When we landed, she said, relatives do not always understand that it may take a few more minutes to put on our overalls before helping the sick. “
On Thursday, her partner and her have been dispatched to the scene of a psychiatric emergency. Fortunately, police officers, looking a little more human than the tandem encapsulated, were there to help. When possible, an ambulance driver hidden door at the bedside of the infected patient, and the other, face to face, reassures the remote families. In Italy, doctors have pasted the photo of their face on their jacket to provide a more human face to their patients. Nora thinks.
“Yes it takes more time to respond because we must protect you head to toe. But those minutes-there saves also lives, ” she insists. Now, half of the calls passed to Emergency Health in Montreal are suspected or confirmed cases of coronavirus.
Ce text is part of our “Outlook” section.
Since the beginning of the epidemic, these professionals in emergency response do not skimp with the virus. In six weeks, they reported that 10 cases of infection among the 800 employees of Emergency Health in Montreal deployed to the field.
They are, however, very exposed during cpr, intubation, and when they manipulate, and place infected patients on stretchers, to the interior of the building unventilated rooms where sick persons are confined. “From the beginning, we have opted for the maximum protection and it has been paying. As soon as an ambulance has symptoms or has been at risk of exposure, he and his team-mate is immediately removed as a preventative measure. There is always two in the passenger compartment of a vehicle, the risk to contaminate are great, ” explains Réjean Leclerc, president of the Union of the pre-hospital in Montreal.
This strategy is without compromise. Protection complete with overalls, gloves, masks 3000 to filter and eye protection for all calls ” COVID-19 confirmed or suspected “. A dress often seen in countries such as Korea, where cases of infection have been reduced almost to nil.
“From the beginning, when I was looking at go to the staff of hospitals and NURSING homes, sometimes without masks effective or protective equipment, it was felt the disaster coming. We said already that it would end up in a fire of straw, ” said Réjean Leclerc.
The culture of the “disaster” inherent in the profession, has surely played into the strategy of all out, totally supported by the patterns of Emergency Health care, stimulus Réjean Leclerc. “We had the H1N1, SARS, is still a work in cramped, both in the ambulances that are glued on to the sick. We focused on the highest protection possible. “
And since march, the paramedics clean, clear, and clean. And endure. “We are so hypervigilant that after two calls, it is burned. We must wear our masks at all times. Even if you sneeze in ! ” said Nora. The equipment is reusable, is disinfected between each response and the valuable masks are washable, when they are not on the nose, are placed in containers of ice cream to airtight.
The day and the night
Quite a contrast with what happens in hospitals and NURSING homes, where the sick converge and where the epidemic continues, the more beautiful its foray. The figures speak for themselves. Quebec announced Friday a record number of deaths in a day… after six weeks of isolation. The peak had to be reached in mid-April, but the rate of contamination is still progressing to Montreal. A rate fueled by in-patients poorly isolated from each other, and staff that we continue to walk between hot zones and cold zones, or from one unit to the other.
To add to the table, Friday, CIUSSS of Montreal have slightly opened a door perilous, unthinkable a few weeks ago : to allow employees infected with the coronavirus to go work in the hospitals in case of termination of services.
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A predictable pattern
Three proposed recipients have died of the COVID-19. For Pascal Bastarache, president of the staff Union paratechnique, auxiliary services and trades (FSSS-CSN) of the Mauricie, the catastrophe materializes a little more each day.
This region had at the beginning of April, 25 % of hiv-infected workers in the province. The CHSLD Laflèche of Shawinigan was one of the first to be devastated by the epidemic. To date, 70 % of the employees have been infected, and that 106 of the 138 residents, of which 43 have died.
“Despite everything that has happened and all we know now on asymptomatic individuals, workers of a CHSLD “hot” were still displaced, 22 April, to other non-affected. The next day, the case broke out in three new NURSING homes. If you had given masks to people, and stopped the mobility from the beginning, we would not be here today, laments Mr. Bastarache. A lot of lives could have been saved. “
In his hospital of the South Shore, Dr. Germain Poirier, internist and intensivist, care for the morale, despite the new “normalcy” which fell on all the staff. At the edge of the déconfinement, he did not see come the end of this crisis on the horizon. “If we had access to the tests from the start, it would have changed the situation in the NURSING homes, limited the number of deaths and prevented contamination of hospitals. There is no reason that it has not had in Quebec the capacity to be self-sufficient reagents for testing, in masks, in swabs. He would have had to be ready from the start. But after SARS, the authorities have turned a blind eye. There, he says, it is taken to manage a week at a time. “
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