Due to the increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations, the health system is reaching a critical level. Once reached, there will be some very difficult choices to make: the postponement of surgeries, including kidney transplants, and other semi-urgent procedures. It is therefore crucial that we do everything possible to ensure there are enough healthcare professionals to maintain health care for the population.
Is it necessary to remind everyone that healthcare professionals are the ones keeping the healthcare system afloat under conditions that have greatly deteriorated since the pandemic began nearly a year ago? And it wasn’t going well before that.
The use of coercive measures, such as mandatory overtime (even before the pandemic), cancelling days off and vacations, imposing mandatory full time and 12-hour days make the situation unsustainable and add to care teams’ exhaustion. To prevent them from becoming infected, falling sick from burn out or leaving the system altogether, we need to apply certain basic prevention and protection rules.
· The government should quickly clarify its vaccination strategy, especially around the 2nd dose, to ensure that healthcare professionals are adequately protected.
· Healthcare professionals should have access to N95 masks for any proximity care they believe requires it. Unlike in Ontario and Manitoba, Quebec does not recognize healthcare professionals’ clinical judgement for deciding on the equipment required based on the risk level. Now that the INSPQ recognizes that the virus is transmitted by
aerosols, the government must immediately update its guidelines and adopt the best practices.
· We have to give healthcare professionals acceptable working conditions to ensure their health and safety and follow stable work schedules, including break times.
In the last few months, the Quebec population has had to make a number of sacrifices to help slow the spread of the virus. But if the government doesn’t take fast action to better protect healthcare professionals, all of these efforts will have been in vain.