'It's got to stop:' nurses working in hot and cold zones fear spreading COVID-19
MONTREAL -- His house draped in rainbow flags, 78-year-old John is proud of his daughter’s work.
She’s a nurse, but because John is high risk and the two live together, she’s been working exclusively in a non-covid unit—until this week.
“On Thursday, I think the staff was told that everybody would have to contribute,” says John.
For months, health care workers have been demanding to work either in a COVID-19 hot zone or cold zone, not both.
John’s daughter did not want to be included in this story out of fear of reprisal. He says they’re both afraid she’ll accidentally bring the virus home.
Despite his daughter telling her colleagues about living with a vulnerable parent, “nobody seemed to pay any attention,” according to John.
He and his daughter are taking precautions to physically distance at home. While he’s afraid for his own safety, he’s also worried about his daughter infecting the non-COVID-19 patients she is still caring for.
“This has been a problem since the beginning,” said President of the Federation de la sante et des services sociaux (FSSS-CSN) Jeff Begley. “It’s a priority as far as we are concerned to eliminate the possibility of people going between hot and cold zones.”
For months, nurses unions have been sounding the alarm about the dangers of assigning health care workers to both hot and cold zones.
The government needs to address the issue before a potential second wave hits, says Begley.
“We’ve got to get a handle on this, it’s got to stop,” told CTV News. “It’s one of the three elements that are really important in controlling the virus.”
What is extremely discouraging, Begley says, is workers are continuously assigned to both zones, forcing those like John’s daughter into a bad situation.
“I guess the thing that bothers me is that she doesn’t seem to have a choice, you know?”
With over 5,000 Quebec health care workers already testing positive, John says he now lives in fear inside his own home.