McGill University Health Centre Employees’ Union (MUHCEU) – CSN

Problems with the protection of health care workers

The government is gaining popularity with successive measures to protect the public, but what about protecting the “guardian angels” who work at the MUHC and other institutions.

Everyone agrees that an institution like the MUHC is the front line. It’s not just doctors and nurses who are exposed. Patient attendants (PAB’S) do their work with infected patients, housekeeping cleans up soiled areas, administrative agents receive patients, the kitchen workers takes over soiled patients’ cabarets, etc.

The protocol that determines who is to be tested and when is to be tested seems to us to be far too reactive, whereas in order to fight this devious enemy that is COVID-19, we must be preventive and proactive.

As of March 31, the protocol is to test people who have at least one symptom. The problem with that is that a person is detectable only 24 hours after they begin to be contagious. A person at work may be in close contact with several people during those 24 hours.  

In addition, if not tested, people who do not develop symptoms right away could be at work and could be contagious for more than a day. 

In addition, not all health care workers are able to respect the 2-metre distance. In the kitchens employees work side by side. The same is true for the administrative agents and professionals who receive patients. 

We are therefore asking that the protocol be changed and that a more proactive approach be adopted to ensure the protection of staff.

We must limit the period of possible exposure of employees to colleagues who are POSITIVE and who have not been tested because they have not developed symptoms.  

We are asking that the protocol be amended to ensure that each health care worker is tested once a week.

Our request was denied because it is possible that a person could test negative and not become detectable until the day after the test. We are aware of this, but this risk is much less than the risk of having an infected employee who stays at work because he or she has not been tested and will not be tested until symptoms appear.

The official protocol, as of March 31, also determines that an employee who has no symptoms and who lives with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 must still report to work. We see no prevention, much less a proactive attitude in this protocol.

In addition, every health care worker must have adequate and sufficient protective equipment.  A more proactive testing protocol would allow us to intercept more cases of contagion more quickly, but protective equipment is vital at all times.

Having infected people at work in a hospital is totally contrary to a principle of precaution, prevention and proactive control.

There is an urgent need to change the protocols for health and social services employees.  

MUHC Employees Union – CSN

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