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Inside the ‘red zone’ of Montreal’s Douglas Mental Health University Institute

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Inside a Montreal hospital hot zone' Coronavirus: Inside a Montreal hospital hot zone
WATCH: Global's Tim Sargeant shows us first hand how staff care for patients under very difficult conditions in this exclusive tour inside the hot zone of the Douglas Mental Health University Institute in Montreal’s Verdun borough – May 6, 2020

There are no shortcuts in getting ready to enter a restricted area where COVID-19 patients are being treated as they recover from the deadly pathogen.

Anyone who enters the “red zone” at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute is required to suit up in scrubs, gowns, gloves, face masks, shields and shoe coverings.

As of Wednesday, 18 psychiatric patients were currently being cared for by a team of medical specialists. The Douglas is the designated hospital to receive all COVID-19-positive patients on the island who are clinically diagnosed with psychiatric conditions.

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There is no ICU, nor are there any ventilators at the Douglas. Patients who have deteriorating vital signs are transferred to the emergency rooms of other hospitals.

“Even though they come here stable we have to watch that there’s no changes in their status,” Dr. Peter Blusanovics, a GP at the Douglas hospital told Global News.

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Patients first started arriving at the Douglas on March 27. Most recover in the restricted area within two weeks.

Doctors project the number of patients the Douglas is receiving will increase to its maximum amount of 26 within a couple of weeks.

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Of the 1,000 hospital workers at the Douglas, 22 have contracted the coronavirus but remarkably, none of them are staff members who work in the “red zone.”

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Staff attribute this to the strong protocols in place for wearing protective equipment, as well as the constant disinfecting and cleaning that’s being done.

“Take also the time to respect all those measures because it’s really, really important for them,” said Amine Saadi, the hospital’s associate director of mental health.

Treating patients suffering from mental health issues poses its own set of challenges for staff members. Now, the addition of the COVID-19 disease has made life much more complicated for employees.

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“We do what we have to do and we dress appropriately. We have the equipment that we need,” said psychiatrist Julia Dornik.

All personnel have shown up to work since the Douglas started treating COVID-infected patients in March and none of the workers in the restricted area have become ill — a testament to their determination to try and help the patients get healthy again.

Click to play video 'Montreal struggling to contain COVID-19 as infection rate rises' Montreal struggling to contain COVID-19 as infection rate rises
Montreal struggling to contain COVID-19 as infection rate rises – May 6, 2020