The following is from a Facebook post made by the esteemed Canadian veteran’s advocate Lt. Wolf Wm. Solkin on Sept.29th. It still applies today.
Subject: Re: A FESTERING FLAW IN THE CORONAVIRUS OINTMENT OF OVERSIGHT
Of late, both the public and social media , have paid avid attention to various aspects of COVID-19, including its egregious effects, mitigating measures, and foreboding forecasts. And rightly so, as this deadly disease could, if not soon controlled , destructively damage our way of life, for decades to come.
In that frame of reference, I find it essential to draw specific attention to one singular situation which, if not rapidly rectified, will well vitiate, if not fully erase, all the efforts now in place to prevent potential outbreaks of the virus.
I refer to the fact that employees in nursing homes/CHSLD facilities and the like ( notably orderlies, who are in constant and direct contact with their often helpless charges), cannot be compelled to take tests for the presence of COVID-19, unless they first show signs of being symptomatic.
I am a long time resident of Ste. Anne’s Hospital, whose several hundred occupants include aged Veterans of various wars, alongside a major majority of “civilian” patients. Some days ago, a nurse on my floor was found to be “ Positive” for the pestilence. and almost immediately certain preventative protocols were put into place: all staff were obliged to wear gowns, gloves, masks and shields when in contact with patients, and to completely change into fresh PPE [Personal Protective Equipment] outfits, before being with another patient. As well, all employees were “invited” to be tested, BUT, as one senior staffer said to me, they cannot “force” them to take a test, unless they are already symptomatic (which, in my view, is too late, by half).
I expressed my surprise and dismay at what I deem to be a potentially fatal flaw in the protective system, and decided to make further (written) objection and inquiries to an even more senior member of our CIUSSS hierarchy of head honchos, who simply( in both senses) replied that “We are not in a position to obligate testing of the staff”, and did not elaborate further.
How is it, I wondered, that we can compel complete PPE for employees, and yet stop short of making testing mandatory, when the latter is so essential and fundamental in its nature ? My further ferreting appears to favour the provisions of the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, which is, at the top bureaucratic level, deemed much too sensitive and sacrosanct to be meddled with. If that be the case, (and so it seems to be), then certainly our most basic “Right” is that of life itself, and, under the current circumstances, should, inarguably, take precedence over other and more minor rights, such as invasion of privacy and the like.
As well, do we patients not have an inherent right to know if any member of our staff has been tested, and with what result, and then the right to refuse service from any employee who declines being tested ?
We are, without a doubt, in a state of war against an implacable and ruthless foe, and wartime is no time for niceties. And that stance stands, whoever or whatever is , at the root of this malignancy.
This farce must be forced to a finish, if we are not to add considerably to the count of infections, illnesses, and unnecessary deaths.
Wolf Wm Solkin
President, Ste. Anne’s Hospital Veterans’ Committee
President, Hopital Ste. Anne Comite’ des Usagers
Patient No. 55350