Essential service workers consider alternative housing to protect their families – Red Deer Advocate

Nurses and emergency service workers are seeking to protect their families from COVID-19 by having workers stay in hotels to reduce their exposure to the virus.

Brad Readman, president of the Alberta Fire Fighters Association, said some chapters have hotels on standby in case they need to self-isolate large numbers of members who may have been exposed.

But Red Deer members, who include firefighters, paramedics and dispatchers, have so far stayed with their families, with 21 self-isolating, he said.

More than 300 members across the province are in isolation, representing 10% of the workforce.

“We expect to see that number drop because the majority of these cases are due to travel, but we are now starting to see the number of symptomatic isolation cases increase,” said Readman, who is a firefighter in Red Deer.

Red Deer has 210 members, so staffing levels have so far been maintained, he said.

Heather Smith, president of the United Nurses of Alberta, said providing hotel rooms to staff concerned about their family’s exposure to COVID-19 was part of a discussion she had with other union representatives. from across Canada on Tuesday.

She said B.C. is already reaching out to hotels to provide free or low-cost accommodations for nurses. A large long-term care organization in Nova Scotia also provided housing for nurses.

“They’re doing amazing things providing hotel rooms for staff working in these facilities with COVID-positive patients,” Smith said.

“We don’t have anything right now, but we’re going to increase it with AHS and Covenant Health. There is a long list of things that come up every day with Alberta Health Services.

She said healthcare workers were at higher risk of infection the longer they were exposed to COVID patients, which was also why the UNA and other unions worked to secure an agreement with health services. Alberta Health and Covenant Health to have risk assessments done for each patient. interaction to ensure frontline staff have the protective equipment they need.

Other unions that are part of the deal include the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees and the Alberta Health Sciences Association.

“We had issues with attempts to hoard some pieces of protective gear,” Smith said. “What is imperative is that everyone takes the appropriate precautions.”

She said the recommended distance of two meters has not happened in some offices.

“We have areas where workers are not being asked to work from home when they certainly could and should be. In progress.

Smith said providing hospital-bleached scrubs to nurses working where there are known cases of COVID is another idea the nurses’ union will pitch to AHS.


szielinski@reddeeradvocate.com
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Michelle J. Kelley