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B.C. nurse who recovered from COVID-19 warns health-care workers about returning to work too soon

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WATCH: A B.C. nurse who's recovering from COVID-19 is warning other health-care professionals against returning to work too soon – Apr 28, 2020

A Vancouver nurse who has recovered from COVID-19 is concerned that staffing problems could lead some nurses, doctors and health-care professionals who become sick with the novel coronavirus disease to return to work too soon.

Mahi Etminan, a registered nurse at Vancouver’s St. Paul’s Hospital, no longer has COVID-19 but says she was surprised by how long the symptoms could linger.

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“I had a chest X-ray, and it showed that my lungs are still quite inflamed, and I ended up being on a puffer,” she said.

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Etminan contracted the virus in the first week of March and was hoping to return to the front lines once she had recovered.

She is warning other nurses and health-care professionals that a full recovery could take weeks.

READ MORE: ‘I underestimated this virus’ — Vancouver nurse on recovering from COVID-19

“I was getting well and I was planning to go back last week and I started having the cough … I had to tell my employer that I’m not ready to come back because I don’t want to put myself at risk again and put other people at risk,” she said.

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While there might be a demand for some specialized health-care workers, there isn’t a hard-and-fast protocol around health-care workers returning to work post-virus.

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In those cases, it’s up to the worker and supervisor to sort out what a safe return to work looks like.

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“It may be that people are asked to come in if they are potentially part of an outbreak but we can’t provide safe care without that skill set or that person or without that number of people there to support,” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said.

Etminan says her employer has not insisted she return to work, and she’s hopeful that other bosses won’t pressure their workers to rush back.

“You have to take that extra time to make sure you’re completely healed,” she said.

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