Aside from white hair roots that go undyed during the COVID-19 process of self-isolation, the pandemic has exposed other things as well. Here in Quebec, one such revelation has been the chronic understaffing of long-term residences.
The vast majority of deaths in Quebec have been seniors, many of whom died in one of these residences. Could proper staffing have reduced this number?
The premier of Quebec has vowed that once we are out of this nightmare there will be an inquiry into the situation. But currently, the province is short of 1,200 people to work in these residences. While some of those require full medical training – doctors – the majority of them are nurses and orderlies. They just can’t find people who are trained and willing to work in what are potentially very dangerous locations.
While the pandemic is still in full swing, many elective medical procedures have been postponed. This has led to many medical specialists finding themselves with time on their hands.
So, the premier has been asking, or more accurately pleading, for these people to come forward and answer the call to fill-in at these residences. He clearly explained that they would be doing things that are beneath their level of training and experience. But that must be done nonetheless. Essentially he is asking well-trained medical specialists to do the things normally carried out by nurses and even orderlies.
Initially, the union of medical specialists felt slighted, insulted. How dare the premier think so little of us. We’re significantly above that kind of work.
While this may well be true, all things being equal, all things are not equal at this time. Drastic times call for drastic measures.
To their credit, once egos had been salved, some one-thousand medical specialists have put forth their names to respond to the emergency situation. Good on them.
But there’s another ripple. The government will pay these physicians $2,500 a day. This will no doubt lead to the situation where an orderly, making about twenty bucks an hour will train a doctor making over $200 an hour based on a twelve-hour day.
It’s great that these physicians have decided to exercise their sense of duty and answer the call. But $2,500 daily must take a bit of the sting out of having their egos hurt. Now the nurses feel scorned; they assume they will still have to do the lion’s share of the work (they believe the doctors will not change diapers or carry out other messy but essential tasks). This pandemic is starting to take its toll in many ways.