The Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec – FIQ is once again sounding the alarm about the need to protect healthcare professionals. “Government updates about the availability of PPE for healthcare professionals are far from reassuring. Are we really going to make the same mistakes as in the first wave? Access to personal protective equipment was a daily issue and most healthcare professionals were denied N95 masks, as they were reserved for very specific medical interventions. During our discussions with the government this week, it reiterated that protective equipment must be used sparingly. This kind of wording tells us that we are still in a situation where we have to ration protective equipment. It’s unacceptable! Protecting FIQ and FIQP healthcare professionals as they face the second wave is not a luxury, it’s a necessity,” stated Nancy Bédard, FIQ President.
The importance of N95 masks
The FIQ is calling on the Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ) to order the government and employers to implement best practices to protect healthcare professionals’ health and safety. During the first wave, over 14,000 staff members in the health network became infected with COVID-19. The FIQ believes that the health network in its current state cannot handle another wave with the same contamination rate. “Each healthcare professional we lose is one too many. The INSPQ needs to give clear directives that will ensure nurses, licensed practical nurses, respiratory therapists and clinical perfusionists receive maximum protection. Would we ask fire fighters to enter a burning house without the required protective equipment? The answer is obvious,” continued Linda Lapointe, FIQ Vice-President and Political Officer for occupational health and safety.
As the Federation sees it, the government could get away with the excuse of short stocks during the first wave, but not the second. It had several months to prepare. Healthcare professionals who work with patients who have tested positive for COVID-19, or are suspected of having it, should have guaranteed access to N95 masks.
The Federation would like to point out that every day, from every platform, the government and Dr. Arruda state that the virus is still largely unknown. And while experts don’t all agree on the modes of transmission, according to 239 scientists from 32 countries, the virus is very likely transmitted through the air. “Without a clear, definitive consensus, the Federation is asking that the precautionary principle be used, as well as optimal protective measures. N95 masks are key, especially when we look back at the failure to protect healthcare professionals during the first wave,” concluded Ms. Bédard and Ms. Lapointe.