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After refusal, world leader Dr. Liu allowed to help in Quebec’s long-term care facilities

Dr. Joanne Liu was granted permission to work in Quebec's long-term care facilities after being told she didn't qualify.
Dr. Joanne Liu was granted permission to work in Quebec's long-term care facilities after being told she didn't qualify. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP,/Keystone, Salvatore Di Nolfi

After being told that the health network did not need her, former president of Doctors Without Borders Dr. Joanne Liu, who is on the list of the 100 most influential figures in the world according to Time magazine, will ultimately be able to help provide care in CHSLDs, Health Minister Danielle McCann unveiled Friday evening.

McCann took to Twitter to let Dr. Liu know that her help was welcome.

“Thank you to Dr. Liu and Paul Larocque TVA for bringing this to my attention.

“We need everyone’s contribution to take care of our seniors in #CHSLD.”

“My office will ensure that Dr. Liu is called quickly to help to this collective effort!”

READ MORE: Former head of Doctors Without Borders joins front lines in coronavirus fight

Earlier Friday, Liu, the Order of Quebec-recipient, who was at the head of Doctors Without Borders during the fight against the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, told TVA that her request to help in the fight against COVID-19 had been refused.

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Click to play video 'Coronavirus around the world: April 17, 2020' Coronavirus around the world: April 17, 2020
Coronavirus around the world: April 17, 2020

“I was told that I did not have the experience to respond to epidemics in an environment like Quebec,” she explained to host Paul Larocque.

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READ MORE: Montreal-based former Doctors Without Borders head discusses leading aid agency in an era of fear

Following McCann’s tweet, Dr. Liu, who spent a good part of her career risking her life on the front lines in a health emergency told The Canadian Press Friday night that she was prepared to help in a CHSLD.

“I’m on the waiting list to go,” she wrote in an email.

In the past few days, testimonies from Quebecers who were ready to help, but never received a call, poured in to media outlets.

Earlier this week, Premier François Legault indicated that the health network is in need of 2,000 doctors in CHSLDs. “Whether it’s general practitioners or specialists, who come to treat the world, who come to bathe patients, who come to feed the patients.”

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Dr. Liu, 54, began her fieldwork at Doctors Without Borders in 1996 and subsequently participated in some 20 missions in Central Asia, Africa and the Middle East, in conflict zones, from disasters to epidemics.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Quebec premier takes ‘full responsibility’ after situation in nursing homes ‘deteriorated’

During her mandate as president of Doctors Without Borders, the organization intervened in several dozen countries, notably in Africa in 2014 during the Ebola virus crisis.

Click to play video 'UN deploys doctors after Ebola cases reported in Congo’s northwest' UN deploys doctors after Ebola cases reported in Congo’s northwest
UN deploys doctors after Ebola cases reported in Congo’s northwest

When Time magazine included Dr. Liu in its list of top 100 most influential people in the world, Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wrote: “In extremely difficult circumstances, Joanne Liu remained focused while being flexible. More importantly, she worked tirelessly to prepare the world to better respond to crises.”

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–With files from Stéphane Blais of The Canadian Press