Positively No Negative

Front-line workers are heroes. Little debate over that point. What was in debate, however was whether time off over Christmas trumped the need to roll out vaccinations. 

One Newfoundlander found himself in the news defending the fact that just 13,200 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were administered throughout Ontario when the province reportedly had 53,000 on hand. The reason for the slow-flow? Because it was Christmas and there were shortened hours at clinics throughout the province, with most closed entirely on December 25th and 26th. 

Life or death

In an interview with CTV News Channel, retired General, Newfoundlander Rick Hillier, who chairs the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force, explained the decision to press pause was to give front-line workers a break over the holiday. Admirable? Perhaps. But with an outbreak in Ontario and with evidence of a new strain of the virus making the rounds, perhaps the time-off consideration should have been reconsidered. In hindsight, it wasn’t wise, 

Hillier acknowledged in the interview. “We’re not going to be taking any more days off, and so we’ll catch up for those next couple of days,” he said.

While no one deserves a break more than those facing the fire head-on in hospitals throughout the world, these are tough times, and this is a health care crisis like no other and any delay can mean life or death.  

Few get it more than those who either work on the front lines or those who love those that do. My sister is a nurse who trained and worked in Ontario for decades. She returned to this province because of the virus. As a single mom, heading out to work each day with no family support was tough. What if she became ill? What if there was an outbreak at her daycare and she couldn’t work because she had nowhere for her young son? What if one of her children became sick? There were too many risk factors to navigate, so she moved home and now works for Eastern Health. 

And it’s a good thing. “Facility-wide outbreak at Greater Niagara General Site,” was the headline she woke to not long ago. Being her former workplace, this really didn’t come as much of a surprise, though it was certainly still a shock to her soul. My sister had kept in contact, talking to many of her former co-workers-turned-friends daily. Still, hearing that eight of her former crew tested positive was emotional news. Hearing the virus was spreading didn’t knock her to her knees – that’s a reality those working in health care face with bravery every day – but hearing the personal battles from those she once called her work family did. It’s hard to know those whose back you once had – and those who once had your back – are fighting a battle without you. 

Skill, grace & honour

Nurse Linda Brown is one of my sister’s dearest friends back on the front lines in Ontario. My sister worries about her every day. As of this writing, 59 patients and 73 staff had tested positive and ten patients who had tested positive have died from the virus. Also, if exposed, nurses like Linda must isolate for two weeks as a precaution – without pay unless you have vacation time. And if you are off sick with the virus? File a Workers Compensation form, fast, as pay will not continue. 

Still, Linda goes to work with a laugh and a smile each and every day. She’s protecting herself, but her main focus – like every nurse I’ve ever met – is on protecting those who need her care. While facing the possibility of testing positive, those in healthcare shake off the negative, don their protective armour, and just do their job with skill, grace, and honour. 

To those throughout this province, like my sister Kelly, and those like Linda Brown who grace the front lines in provinces where going to work carries much greater risk, we salute you. Thank you for what you do for all of us. Your positivity and professionalism as you face each workday has not gone unnoticed.

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