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  • Writer's pictureWest Island News

A proposed plan could have caretakers responsible for loved ones in hospital 24/7

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You heard that right. A newly proposed health plan could make caretakers responsible for managing their loved one's basic needs in the hospital 24/7 until the COVID crisis begins to settle.

On January 12th, a plan was presented to Quebec's Health Minister, Christian Dubé. The plan, titled "Guide for the prioritization and management of short-term hospitalizations in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic", highlighted four primary areas of action.

  1. The first pillar would have hospitals "accept certain risks" and drastically lessen their efforts to prevent the entry of the virus into our healthcare facilities. Instead, dealing with COVID-19 cases in hospitals would become the new normal.

  2. Secondly, hospitals will focus their efforts on discharges, and limit the number of patients being admitted.

  3. Thirdly, families and caretakers will be turned to for support both inside and outside of hospitals.

  4. Lastly, the new guide redefines the minimum standard of care for hospital patients.

According to certain discussions amongst officials, the application of this new approach is inevitable.

The plan comes, as the situation in hospitals only continues to worsen. Life-saving cancer surgeries are already being put on hold, and if the situation continues on this trajectory, many patients won't be able to be treated and will instead be offered palliative care.

The guide is set to be put in place for 4-6 weeks as the situation comes to a head, and hopefully calms.

Notably, the plan calls upon caretakers and loved ones of hospital patients to step up to the plate and provide basic care 24 hours a day, so that nurses and PAB's can carry out more specialized tasks and tend to patients who may not have a caretaker.

There is also talk that hotels will contribute to the situation by making rooms and beds available for patients who do not require constant care.

Medical students have also been called upon during these unprecedented times.

Of course, West Islanders have been left worried and discouraged.

"What will be important information for me is whether this initiative will include those in long-term care facilities. Often times the spouse is of a certain age and fragile as well and able to help out but hardly able to take over someone’s needs 24/7."
- Rhonda Massad, Editor in Chief

A lot of patients who require 24/7 care are elderly, and as such, their caregivers are often senior citizens as well.

"Imagine my 78-year-old mother who visits my father daily and is considered his primary caregiver, living at the hospital with him and taking care of him. There is little room to maneuver especially during the acute months of covid and they are not permitted to leave his room and she is forced to wear a mask, visor, and gown", said Massad.

"Not to mention she has no place to lay her weary head all day. This will risk her mental health along with her physical well-being. I think it’s time to seriously invest in our healthcare workers and pay what it takes to get this problem fixed. Asking the elderly to mind the elderly will pose new challenges to the system."

Furthermore, what will this mean for caregivers and family members who have to take off work in order to be at the hospital?

"I don't necessarily know that I'd be opposed to taking care of my father. At least I would know he was being treated well and tended to. That said, is the government going to pay me? Are they going to reimburse me for all the time I'll have to take away from my job for weeks on end?"
- Karen Simmons

Quebec's healthcare system is in crisis. It is important, now more than ever before, to remain diligent, to respect public health measures, to social distance, to only go out when necessary, and to protect the vulnerable by getting vaccinated if you are able.

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