A health care worker in Interior Health is concerned they may bring COVID-19 home and are hoping the government will be able to provide cheap accommodations for health care workers. (Black Press Media file photo)

Government needs to help with temporary accommodation says healthcare worker

‘I just don’t want to bring this home’

Health care worker seeks government help to secure cheap alternative accommodations during COVID-19 Pandemic.

A South Cariboo health care professional of over 20 years is hoping the government will be able to step in and help subsidize the costs of healthcare workers who plan to live away from home during this pandemic to avoid getting their families sick.

For Jane Doe, which is not her real name as she wished to remain anonymous, this is especially important as her fiance at home is immuno-compromised and is therefore at higher risk should he inadvertently catch it.

“I just don’t want to bring this home,” Doe said.

This is why she’s hoping the government will step up for health care workers like her and help them put them up in places like hotels without paying the full rates. The cheapest place Doe could find, currently, was asking for $332 a week which is something a health care worker on one source of income with a mortgage can’t afford.

Read More: COVID-19: Six handwashing mistakes to avoid

That sum of money was, in fact, the current hospital rate and Doe said that, as far as she is aware, there’s no other form of compensation on accommodations being made available to health care workers in her position. She feels a reasonable rate, during these unprecedented times, would be a $100 a week if the government is able to step in and compensate the hotel owners, who still need to make money, Doe acknowledged.

Doe said society is being told not to put their compromised loved ones at risk but feels that if you’re working in health care right now you may not have a choice currently. She herself is still going home where she immediately showers after her shift and makes sure she comes into work in her street clothes and not her scrubs.

“We have to look after people in the hospital, so it’s important that us health care workers are able to come into work without being so stressed out that we’re going to put our loved ones at risk,” Doe said. “We need to be able to come in and do our job and not worry all day.”

In the meantime, until accommodations are figured out, Doe hopes the public will follow her example and just “wash, wash, wash” and observe other health guidelines during this time of public health crisis.

The BC Nurses’ Union meanwhile says they’re working hard to ensure vulnerable members are provided with fast-tracked medical accommodations during the outbreak, such as nurses who are immune-compromised or pregnant.

There should be no requirement to provide medical notes under the current circumstances, however, medical confirmation may be required following the COVID-19 crisis, according to a March 24 press release.

They note requests should be initiated by individual members who are also asked to contact their manager. Managers should attempt to accommodate through redeployment to non-risk areas, allow working from home or assigning other appropriate work, according to the union or if accommodation is not possible nurses should stay at home and be and access sick leave, EI or other banks.

The B.C. Ministry of Health said that currently there is no alternative housing available for health care workers at this time. This is one of many crucial issues they’re looking into, however, to ensure they are supporting both our crucial healthcare workers and the community.

“The new all-of-government approach allows the Province to work more closely with organizations and stakeholders to ensure British Columbians have access to the supports they need,” the ministry said in a statement to the 100 Mile Free Press.


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