Just days after many businesses in the greater Montreal region reopened, and as warm weather hits, one West Island nurse is sounding the alarm over what she sees as a widespread lack of respect regarding COVID-19 and social distancing.
She worries that a second wave of coronavirus is just around the corner if people continue to let their guard down.
“I’m afraid, I’m really nervous for two weeks from now after what I’m seeing out there,” said Cathy Lalonde, a registered nurse currently working in a COVID-19 screening clinic on Montreal’s West Island.
“I’m sacrificing so I’d like everyone to do their part.”
Lalonde recently posted a plea on her Facebook page, with pictures of her with colleagues decked out in personal protective equipment (PPE). In her message to her friends, she claims the blatant disregard for social distancing is like “a slap in the face” to all health-care workers. The post has been shared more than 200 times.
What sparked the post? Lalonde was taking a walk with her children when she noticed most people in the park weren’t respecting the government’s public safety rules.
“We were in Centennial Park and there were a lot of people huddled together and she got a little upset about that,” said her 14-year-old daughter Emma Cerisano.
The last straw for the mother of four came when she found out that her daughter had shared a bowl of chips at a recent gathering with friends.
“I just burst into tears,” said Lalonde, admitting that she understands it’s hard to see the severity of the virus when you aren’t witnessing what’s happening on the front lines.
“My mom sees it every day,” said 16-year-old Julia Cerisano. “But my friends, they don’t really know anybody who has it so they don’t really see that it’s a big problem.”
Lalonde has seen countless colleagues “knocked off their feet” after contracting the coronavirus.
“Young people, nurses, health-care workers tell me ‘this is like something I’ve never felt’,” said Lalonde.
Her four children are also affected by the long hours she’s forced to work.
“They’re not seeing me as much,” said Lalonde.
But they have found some creative ways to show their appreciation.
Her daughters have been drawing chalk art outside their Dollard-des-Ormeaux home with hopeful messages like “stay safe,” and “keep fighting,” accompanied by drawings of health-care workers with masks.
Her sons Liam and Eric Cerisano wrote a song for her and recorded a video in an attempt to lift her spirits.
“My mom was just getting off work for a long weekend so we wanted to do something nice,” said 12-year-old Liam.
In the video, her son puts on a red cape runs around the backyard singing lines like “mother dearest, you’ve been gone for so long,” and “but you’ve been tending to all the patients with corona.”
The moving work of art was more than well-received by their mother.
“It touched me very deeply,” she said adding that the ultimate gift would be for others to follow their lead and show respect for front-line workers.
“It’s trying times for everybody but if we all do our part we’re going to keep the curve flat and we’re not gonna see a huge spike,” she said.
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“We’ve got to do this so that we keep one another safe so please, please do it.”