A call for Cariboo health care workers to have a safe place to stay, away from home, during the COVID-19 pandemic has been answered with help from MLA Donna Barnett.
This comes in a timely fashion as worldwide COVID-19 cases have reached just over one million this week and it’s become increasingly clear the threat of asymptomatic transmission, spreading the disease without symptoms, is a very real threat to the general public. Health care workers on the front line of this pandemic are, understandably, reluctant to return home and risk spreading the infection a sentiment one worker shared with the Free Press two weeks ago.
Barnett heard this concern and reached out to hospital workers about how best to go about providing these accommodations and help meet their other needs. Shortly after, she began making some calls within the local community to see who could provide these accommodations for those working in the hospital and care homes like Deni House in Williams Lake.
“They need to be safe, we need them more than ever, all the health care workers in these facilities,” Barnett said. “Some of them have children at home or have a family member whose immune system is not working and when they finish their shifts they do not feel comfortable going home.”
Giving them a place to sleep in, outside of their home, between shifts will help relieve some of the stress they’re under, Barnett said. She said that both the Days Inn in 100 Mile House and the Super 8 in Williams Lake are willing to offer subsidized rent for health care workers.
Barnett said that to help them shoulder the cost, she’s calling on the Cariboo to donate money so that health care professionals have a safe place to stay during these times.
From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. residents can call the Days Inn at 778-482-5255 or the Super 8 at 250-302-2615 to donate money to the nurses in need. Any money leftover from these donations, Barnett said, will go to provincial health foundations.
“We’re all saying thank you to nurses, care aides and doctors but I think we can now step up to the plate, with whatever we can afford, and help them out with a safe place to stay when their shifts are done,” Barnett said.
Health care workers like Michelle Johnson, a 100 Mile District General Hospital care aide for 10 years, welcomed this news and being contacted by Barnett.
Johnson, who has an immunocompromised family member at home, said she worked with Barnett and others on this to provide any frontline worker out there with a compromised loved one at home a safe place to stay.
Johnson contacted a few different hotels and motels in the 100 Mile area and was able to find the Days Inn, which offered her a reduced rate. She believes the donations will be used to help cover the rest of the hotel’s cost to ensure the hotels don’t take to much of a hit during this time.
“It’s so stressful going to work as it is and it’s an added stress when you have someone compromised at home and you’re concerned about bringing this home to them. The main thing is to keep everybody safe and I think our families are important so we need to do what we can to keep everybody safe and be able to go to work and do our job,” Johnson said.
In addition to herself, Johnson knows several people in 100 Mile House who will be making use of these alternative accommodations.
Ramada Limited 100 Mile House has also answered the call to provide cheaper accommodations according to operations manager Sahil Tiwari. Due to the current health crisis, he and other members of management feels that it’s only right for industry to give back to the community.
“We are lowering the room rates of our property for these difficult times and we would be happy to welcome any staff from the hospital,” Tiwari said.
They will charge far lower rates than usual to provide them with a safe place to stay until this pandemic runs its course. For more information on exact rates, Tiwari invites health care workers to call him at 250-395-2777.