Fear gave way to relief and smiles at CHSLD Émile-McDuff, in Repentigny. After losing 18 residents, the facility officially disposed of COVID-19 last week. However, one question remains on everyone’s lips: for how long?
“It’s like I never had the virus. I just felt very tired for a few days. But I know he has hurt others. I was lucky, “said Murielle Robert, 78.
One month after visiting the hot area of CHSLD Émile-McDuff, The duty returned to this establishment which was hit hard by the virus at the end of March. Of the 106 residents, 36 were infected and 18 died.
During this second visit, the atmosphere is lighter. It must be said that there have been no new cases since the end of April. The last two patients still in isolation underwent a second screening test Tuesday morning to confirm their recovery. The results fell on Thursday: they are cured, which officially ends the presence of the virus in this CHSLD.
“I’m afraid he’ll be on the prowl again, so I don’t dare ask my sons to come see me. We’re called instead, ”says Murielle Robert.
Like many of her neighbors on the third floor – the former hot zone – she developed few symptoms of the disease. During the most difficult days, she stayed in her bed and slept a lot, to the point of leaving aside her easel and brushes, which she usually never leaves.
“I’ve always drawn and I’ve been painting since I was 12,” says Mme Robert, moving at his own pace, using a walker, to show us around his room. Two landscape paintings are displayed above his bed. On his easel is a representation of a country house surrounded by apple trees: his childhood home. “It felt good to be able to start over. Painting is a way of expressing the things that are inside of me. There’s a lot going on inside … “Her voice is shaking, tears starting to run down her cheeks. We can guess that the changes that have taken place in recent months in the CHSLD have turned her upside down.
” Collateral damages “
“Even if the virus is gone, we cannot completely declare victory. It has caused a lot of collateral damage to mental and physical functions. Some are still short of breath, for example, others have lost their independence, “notes Julie Salette, nurse clinical advisor. Not to mention the containment measures, which weighed heavily on the morale of all residents, whether they were infected or not.
Measures still in place during our visit. The majority of residents stay in their room, dozing in their bed or sitting by the window. Half a door is installed at the entrance to most rooms to control the whereabouts of those who wander. The large common rooms are almost empty.
“We had to adapt the premises to make them safe, but they became less inviting. It is less like a living environment, ”recognizes Julie Poirier, the site coordinator, with a sad look at the living room on the third floor.
Armchairs have been removed to provide distance. Some furniture and decorative items have also been removed, to facilitate disinfection. Dolls, balloons, puzzles and other sources of leisure were also stored in the basement, to prevent them from passing from hand to hand and becoming a source of contamination. “It’s in the meantime, we don’t really know how long,” says Mme Pear tree. We will gradually try to reintroduce them. It’s in our deconfinement plans. “
“Resuming activities is sure to help residents. But above all we want to protect them, “said the nurse Martine Fillion, who was encountered in a corridor as she accompanied a lady who had gone to the wrong room in bed.
Mme Fillion has practiced the trade for 30 years and has worked for six years at CHSLD Émile-McDuff. Usually assigned to the second floor, she was the first employee to volunteer to go to the red zone in late March. Painful to have seen several lives taken by COVID-19, she says today happy to see that the other infected people have won the fight against the virus. “It is a great pleasure to see them quietly on their feet. We will find a certain normality, even if the normality will be different from before. “
Starting with protective measures. If the long jacket and gloves are no longer mandatory without a proven COVID-19 case, nursing staff and visitors must wear a mask and goggles (or a visor) when entering the establishment. Their temperature is also taken by an employee, and passage through the hand washing station is compulsory. Many disinfectant dispensers are also installed in the corridors. During our visit, we saw that these frequent disinfection steps became a reflex for the team.
“The responsibilities of the employees are greater too. It was above all a living environment, a CHSLD. Now we really come back to the essence of the nursing profession, we assess the clientele a lot, we follow up. We are even more vigilant than before to detect the slightest symptom, “adds Martine Fillion.
A change in practice that she believes will last, as the threat of a second wave is already hovering. “At least we now know what we are attacking as a virus and how to protect ourselves from it in the event of a second wave,” said the nurse, confident that he could avoid it.
The Dre Audrey Lafortune, who made her weekly visit on Tuesday, is less optimistic. “We are better prepared, but we are never completely prepared. When the first case occurs, it’s always a surprise, she says. What worries me most is that only a quarter of our residents have been infected and have probably developed immunity. There are still many patients who are potential candidates for the second wave. “
At least we now know what we attack as a virus and how to protect ourselves in the event of a second wave
For director of nursing, Audrey Bouchard, the second wave is not an option. “We are convinced that it will happen, we are preparing for it. No loosening of hygiene measures is planned, and the establishment already has in stock enough protective equipment for the employees.
Lack of staff remains a problem, however. “We have our in-house school to train fast-track beneficiary attendants. Keeping them afterwards remains a challenge, even if we now have government assistance to offer them bonuses. She still remains confident that she can protect residents. “The key is to remain vigilant and that there is no slack in the preventive measures. “