Whereas Québec has entered a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec – FIQ is demanding an assurance that the level of protection for the healthcare professionals for the second wave is better than that provided during the first one. “The government is hammering that everyone must continue to protect themselves and protect others in light of the rise in positive cases across the province, but has little to say about the protection to be offered to the health network personnel. We are demanding an assurance that there will be no compromises on the protection of nurses, licensed practical nurses, respiratory therapists and clinical perfusionists during this second wave. Remember that, according to the recent data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), Québec was the unenviable leader in the number of cases and deaths in health workers during the first wave. We are talking about more than 24% of the personnel infected by COVID-19! The government has to clearly commit to better protecting the healthcare professionals for both themselves and their families and for the patients”, said Nancy Bédard, President of the FIQ.
Access to N95 masks
For the Federation, all healthcare professionals working with patients with a positive COVID-19 test or those suspected of being infected must be ensured access to N95 masks. “This virus is still not well known and despite that the experts are not unanimous on the mode(s) of transmission, airborne transmission of the virus is increasingly likely according to 239 scientists from 32 countries. Faced with the absence of a clear and undisputed consensus, it is essential to apply the principle of precaution and optimal protective measures. The directive needs to be unambiguous: healthcare professionals must have access to N95 masks when the situation so requires”, continued Linda Lapointe, Vice-President of the FIQ and political officer for occupational health and safety. The FIQ would like to point out that using this type of mask makes a positive difference, because it is 95% effective, while a surgical mask is not considered a respiratory protective device.
For a few weeks now, the Federation has increased its public interventions on its concerns about the arrival of this second wave and the healthcare professionals’ state of extreme fatigue. “They have been hard hit both physically and psychologically. Some have fallen ill, others just simply left the network, no longer able to endure the dreadful working conditions imposed by the managers and government. At present, there is already a significant shortage of healthcare professionals to be able to give safe, quality care to the population. Every healthcare professional we lose is one too many. The network cannot put the healthcare professionals at risk and hence, lose even more, because we didn’t protect them properly”, concluded Ms. Bédard and Lapointe.