Dr. Neeja Bakshi was close to the top of a very gruelling day within the COVID-19 unit at Edmonton’s Royal Alexandra Hospital, her nostril rubbed uncooked from repeatedly adjusting the numerous totally different N95 masks she’d donned to take care of sufferers — when dangerous began getting a lot worse.
“We had patients crashing very, very early in the morning [who] required quick ICU care,” she mentioned in an interview airing Saturday on CBC Radio’s The House. “As the day went on, patients were crashing on the ward, some not quite needing ICU care, but needing escalating nursing care, escalating respiratory therapy care.”
Bakshi helped arrange the hospital’s COVID unit within the spring. Now, she and the opposite medical employees working nine- to 10-hour shifts are seeing sufferers who’re sicker than they had been within the spring, whose well being is deteriorating extra quickly, who want extra intensive intervention.
COVID fatigue, she mentioned, is weighing closely on the hospital employees who’re the primary — generally the last — line between restoration and demise.
CBC News: The House13:05Pain and exhaustion on the frontlines in Alberta
‘The penalties of errors … are fairly dire’
“You know, we’re not quite as fresh as we were back in March,” she mentioned. “And I think that’s one thing that’s come up really well in the last couple of weeks, at least in Edmonton, is that, you know, we need to check in with each other — physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, all health care workers — because we know that when you get fatigued, that’s when mistakes can happen. And so we certainly don’t want that to be happening.
“The penalties of errors taking place are fairly dire. We definitely don’t desire outbreaks. We don’t desire individuals and well being care employees to be contracting COVID themselves.”
COVID-19 caseloads are spiking right across the country, a situation that saw Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday holding his first media briefing outside Rideau Cottage since the first wave of the virus ebbed in the summer.
WATCH: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on spiking COVID caseload
“Each new case of COVID-19, each additional week that goes on with extra instances, places added stress on our entrance line employees and our well being care system employees,” the prime minister said.
“Our medical doctors, nurses, private help employees, orderlies, hospital employees, they have been on the entrance strains for nearly 10 months now, placing in extremely lengthy hours … They have been heroes, they’ve been going above and past something they may have thought they had been signing up for. We want to assist them, we have to give them a break, we have to cease this spike in instances.”
Alberta is experiencing one of the worst impacts in Canada’s second wave.
The province reported a single-day high of 1,105 new cases on Thursday. Almost half of all the province’s active cases are in the Edmonton area.
Premier Jason Kenney last week ordered new restrictions that will be in place until next weekend — suspending indoor group fitness programs and team sports and reducing the hours bars and restaurants can remain open.
He’s since warned that more measures could follow, but has resisted a call from a group of 70 doctors to impose a province-wide lockdown to protect 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, can’t be sustained. She’s worried the intensive care unit at her hospital will be overwhelmed and more medical staff will be infected.
“We’re not even on the peak but,” she said. “What is it going to appear to be for the following few months? And how will we guarantee that, collectively, we have got the perfect individuals on the job and the individuals that aren’t burning out?”
But Alberta’s hospitals aren’t the only institutions finding it more difficult to cope with COVID-19 cases. Long-term care centres are, too.
More than 30 residents at the Edmonton General Continuing Care Centre have died and at least 60 staff members are currently infected.
Grande Prairie’s Terry Truchan told The House it’s having had an impact on the level of care his 82-year-old mother receives. He wants the premier to act.
“I’d have a message for Premier Kenney to give up dilly-dallying round,” he said. “Let’s do a tough lockdown for 2 or three weeks, ensure that the curve will get flattened, after which let’s slowly begin to open once more. Not open the floodgates like he did within the summertime.”
Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said Friday that it’s “inexcusable” that long-term care centres are still among the worst sources of infection.
The Liberals promised in September’s throne speech to work with the provinces and territories to establish national standards for long-term care.
“And I put the blame clearly on governments, particularly the Liberal authorities. Prime Minister Trudeau knew that this was an issue and has not acted to save lots of our seniors. People who dwell in long-term care houses need assistance instantly,” Singh said.
Sources tell CBC News that the economic update coming in December is expected to include money to improve infection control in long-term care homes. But that’s cold comfort for people with family in care already.
Nicole Marie’s father is in the South Terrace Continuing Care Centre in Edmonton, where nearly all the residents — at least 85 out of 90 — have tested positive for COVID-19. It too is shut down right now — meaning she and her mother can’t visit or offer any comfort to her father, who tested positive but is so far not showing symptoms.
“For my mother and I, you understand, we won’t convey my dad house. If we may convey my dad house, we might have introduced him house a very long time in the past.”
Now, like so many different Canadians, all Marie can do is hope for the perfect.