COVID-19: 11 nurses from across Canada deployed in Toronto-area hospitals

Click to play video: 'Red Cross sends nurses to Toronto ICU to help' Red Cross sends nurses to Toronto ICU to help
WATCH ABOVE: A team of nurses has been deployed by the Canadian Red Cross to hospitals in Ontario to help with the high critical care case load. Caryn Lieberman reports – May 19, 2021

A team of nurses from across Canada have set up shop in Ontario as the province continues to suffer a major third wave of COVID-19.

The nurses from Alberta, B.C., Quebec, Ontario and the Northwest Territories are stationed at three Toronto-area hospitals, working in critical care settings to provide relief to local health-care workers.

Read more: COVID-19: Military, Red Cross being sent to Ontario’s hospitals after provincial request for help

Saskatoon nurse and project lead Briana Mullock spent last week in Ontario, figuring out how to best support local staff, who she said are stressed and overworked.

“There was a real feeling of collegiality and a real feeling of… relief that someone was stepping up to help them for all that they’re doing,” said Mullock, health and emergencies director for the Canadian Red Cross, which is behind the deployment.

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As of Monday, Ontario reported 1,320 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, with 779 patients in intensive care units.

The team of nurses could be in Ontario for six weeks or longer, working with “a lot of sick people in need of a lot of care,” Mullock said.

“They’re exhausted at the end of the day from all of the work,” she said.

“They’re just really grateful that they’ve been welcomed with open arms and can nurse alongside these other staff members who really are giving their all.”

Ontario’s third wave serves as a reminder the pandemic is far from over, despite increased vaccinations.

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Read more: 3rd COVID-19 wave bringing ‘the most ICU patients that we’ve ever seen in our health-care system:’ Alberta Health Services

Mullock said it’s crucial the people continue to wear masks and socially distance to keep themselves and front-line workers safe during the third wave.

“Things can go from bad to worse very quickly in a pandemic situation,” she said.

In a survey of 2,100 nurses conducted by the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario in February, 95.7 per cent of respondents reported stress from the pandemic, and, at least 13 per cent of registered nurses aged 26 to 35 said they’re very likely to leave the profession after the pandemic is over. That’s four times the normal rate of attrition for that age group.

“It’s really, really important within our health-care infrastructure to make sure that we are protecting our workers, who will step up and be there day after day,” Mullock said.

“It’s nice to know that we were able to go out and support Ontario and I trust it would be the same for [other provinces].”
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