ASSS are afraid to transmit the disease to their patients
The auxiliaries to health and social services (ASSS) who provide home services to vulnerable clients of the CIUSSS de l’Estrie-CHUS are very worried, as is their union. At least one ASSS would have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past few days. During this time, the ASSS must continue to go to their customers’ homes with very little means to protect themselves and to protect their customers against a possible transmission of the coronavirus.
S oulignons ASSS that provide direct services to clients who are in private homes or in private residences for seniors, such as help with bathing, partial toilet aid for food, getting up or going to bed for example.
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“It is impossible to meet the standard of two meters of social distance, it is direct care that the ASSS offer to beneficiaries,” said Éric Bergeron, union advisor at the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), which represents more than 4,000 employees of the CIUSSS de l’Estrie-CHUS.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the ASSS have been doing their days as usual: they have to visit their usual patients, going from house to house without protection.
“Since Monday, the ASSS have received instructions that they must wear masks in all places. But when they leave for their day, they receive two procedural masks, one for the morning, the other for the afternoon. On the other hand, if it is soiled during a treatment, the mask must be discarded. But then, the ASSS doesn’t have any more, ”he adds.
These home care workers are afraid for their own health, of course, but they are also really afraid for their clients.
“It is impossible to meet the standard of two meters of social distance, it is direct care that the ASSS offer to beneficiaries,” said Éric Bergeron, union advisor at the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).
“If an ASSS is a COVID-19 carrier without symptoms, how many vulnerable people will he have had the time to contaminate before knowing it?” We saw it with the first public health surveys in Estrie: a single infected person can cause dozens of cases. I can easily imagine an ASSS in a few months to be in post-traumatic shock because it will have been the cause of several cases among its clientele and members of their families, ”says Éric Bergeron.
CUPE is asking the employer to quickly find solutions to make masks and jackets available to staff working in home care, even if the shortage is a glaring problem across Quebec and even around the world.
“There is surely the possibility of making fabric jackets available, that would already be it. It’s time to innovate, to find solutions, even if it is with the means at hand. Protection must be added for the benefit of the ASSS and the employees, ”said the CUPE union advisor.
A limited number of masks
The management of the CIUSSS de l’Estrie-CHUS counters for its part that it actually took the decision, on Monday, to give a limited number of masks to all its employees who have direct contact with customers, “even when it is not ‘is not clinically required’.
“It is an orientation that aims to protect our users and our employees, because we are aware that there is community transmission in the Eastern Townships. Everything must be done by making sound management of our protective equipment inventory, ”said the spokesperson for the establishment, Annie-Andrée Émond.
In a press briefing on Tuesday, Prime Minister François Legault reiterated that many steps were underway to ensure the supply of masks, among other things, for all establishments in Quebec.
“Even if we hope to have deliveries in the next few days, we cannot consider them until they are delivered. We must therefore manage our equipment to be able to cope with the crisis if it continues, ”adds Ms. Émond.