Dr Neeja Bakshi was near the end of a particularly trying day in the COVID-19 unit at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton, her nose rubbing raw after repeatedly adjusting the many N95 masks she had strung to face the patients – when the ailment started to get much worse.
“Patients crashed very, very early in the morning [who] needed rapid intensive care, ”she said in an interview broadcast on TBEN Radio on Saturday. The House. “As the day went on, patients crashed into the ward, some not quite in need of intensive care, but in need of increasingly intensive nursing, more intensive respiratory therapy care.
Bakshi helped set up the hospital’s COVID unit in the spring. Today, she and other medical staff working nine to 10 hour shifts are seeing patients who are sicker than in the spring, whose health is deteriorating more quickly, who need more intensive intervention.
COVID fatigue, she said, weighs heavily on hospital staff who are the first – sometimes the last – line between recovery and death.
TBEN News: The House1:05 p.m.Pain and exhaustion on the front line in Alberta
“ The consequences of mistakes … are quite dire ”
“You know, we’re not as fresh as we were in March,” she said. “And I think that’s one thing that’s been going really well in the last few weeks, at least in Edmonton, is that, you know, we have to check in with each other – doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, all health care workers. – because we know that when you are tired, this is when mistakes can happen and we certainly don’t want that to happen.
“The consequences of the mistakes that do occur are quite dire. We certainly don’t want epidemics. We don’t want people and healthcare workers to contract COVID themselves.”
The number of COVID-19 cases is climbing across the country, a situation that saw Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hold his first press briefing outside Rideau Cottage on Friday since the first wave of the virus ebbed this summer.
WATCH: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on increasing number of COVID cases
“Each new case of COVID-19, each additional week that continues with more cases, puts additional strain on our frontline workers and our health system workers,” the Prime Minister said.
“Our doctors, nurses, personal assistants, nurses, hospital staff, they’ve been on the front lines for almost 10 months now, dedicating incredibly long hours… They’ve been heroes, they’ve gone above and beyond. could have thought they were signing up. We have to help them, we have to give them a break, we have to stop this spike in cases. “
Alberta suffers one of the worst impacts of Canada’s second wave.
The province reported a high of 1,105 new cases in a single day on Thursday. Almost half of all active cases in the province are in the Edmonton area.
Prime Minister Jason Kenney last week ordered new restrictions that will be in place until next weekend – suspend indoor group fitness programs and team sports and reduce bar opening hours and restaurants.
He has since warned that more measures could follow, but he has resisted a call from a group of 70 doctors to impose a province-wide lockdown to prevent acute care systems from being overwhelmed. .
An unsustainable trend
Dr Bakshi said the number of cases and the number of people requiring hospitalization at the Royal Alexandra cannot be sustained. She fears that her hospital’s intensive care unit is overwhelmed and more medical staff are infected.
“We’re not even at the top yet,” she said. “What is it going to look like for the next few months? And how do we make sure that, collectively, we have the best employees and the people who don’t burn out?”
But Alberta hospitals aren’t the only facilities having a harder time dealing with COVID-19 cases. Long-term care centers are too.
More than 30 residents of the Edmonton General Continuing Care Center have died and at least 60 staff are currently infected.
Terry Truchan from Grande Prairie said The House this had an impact on the level of care her 82-year-old mother receives. He wants the Prime Minister to act.
“I would have a message for Premier Kenney to stop wandering,” he said. “Let’s do a hard lockdown for a couple of weeks, make sure the curve is flattened, then slowly start to open again. Don’t open the valves like it did in the summer.”
Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said on Friday it was “inexcusable” that long-term care facilities were still among the worst sources of infection.
The Liberals promised in the September Throne Speech to work with provinces and territories to set national standards for long-term care.
“And I clearly blame governments, especially the Liberal government. Prime Minister Trudeau knew this was a problem and did not act to save our seniors. People who live in long-term care homes need help right away, ”Singh said.
Sources tell TBEN News that the economic update coming in December should include money to improve infection control in long-term care homes. But it is already a cold comfort for people whose families are in care.
Nicole Marie’s father is at the South Terrace Continuing Care Center in Edmonton, where nearly all residents – at least 85 out of 90 – have tested positive for COVID-19. It is also closed at the moment – meaning she and her mother cannot visit or offer comfort to her father, who has tested positive but is not showing symptoms as of yet.
“For my mom and I, you know, we can’t bring my dad home. If we could bring my dad home, we would have brought him home a long time ago.
Now, like so many other Canadians, all Marie can do is hope for the best.