Ontario’s first known healthcare worker dies from COVID-19

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The man was admitted to Brampton Civic on March 27 and placed on a ventilator when his symptoms worsened.

Lindsay Lauckner / The Globe and Mail

A housekeeper at a southern Ontario hospital died from COVID-19, becoming the province’s first known victim among those on the front lines of the Coronavirus pandemic.

The William Osler health care system announced Thursday that a longtime environmental service worker, a man in his 50s, has died. The employee was among more than two dozen health care workers in Ontario who are hospitalized with COVID-19, according to new figures from The Globe and Mail.

“This is a very difficult day for all of us,” said Brooks Fallis, medical director and division chief of intensive care at the Brampton Civic Hospital west of Toronto, part of the William Osler family.

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As part of the medical team who treated the man, Dr. Fallis met him and his wife and family, who were isolated at home and were unable to visit him at home. hospital during the two weeks he spent in intensive care a ventilator.

Hospital staff did their utmost to communicate the man’s family to him by videoconference at his bedside, said Dr. Fallis. “Even if they cannot reach out and touch their loved ones,” he said, “they can see and speak to them. “

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The man developed symptoms of the disease on March 20 and isolated himself at home. He was admitted to Brampton Civic on March 27 and placed on a ventilator when his symptoms worsened.

“Unfortunately, despite all of our efforts and all we could do to support him, he passed away this morning,” said Dr. Fallis in an interview. “He was otherwise in good health before coming into contact with COVID-19.”

Environmental service workers may be at high risk of exposure to COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, as they are responsible for cleaning patients’ hospital rooms. However, an investigation found that the man probably had the virus in the community, not at work, the hospital said.

Sohail Gandhi, President of the Ontario Medical Association, said it was the first time that a healthcare entity had reported the death of an employee at his organization since the start of the pandemic. Another doctor, whose name the Globe and Mail remains confidential because they were not allowed to speak on the record, said he was preparing for such a scenario because mortality rates for patients in care intensive are usually 20-25%. .

A total of 27 health care workers in Ontario were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Wednesday, including nine in intensive care beds, according to figures obtained by the Globe. A total of 622 health care workers were ill with the disease, representing one in 10 cases in the province.

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The figures were compiled by the 34 public health units in the province. However, there is no consistency in the information that health units collect or in how they report it. A random survey by the Globe, for example, found only one health unit that reported the number of doctors who tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Toronto public health reports that 31 city health workers have the disease, including 12 doctors.

Dr. Gandhi, head of the OMA who practices medicine in Stayner, about 145 kilometers north of Toronto, said he was concerned for its members, many of whom believe they can handle everything.

“They will go into environments where they could potentially contaminate themselves, and they will do so voluntarily knowing that they have an obligation to take care of their patients,” he said in an interview.

Vicki McKenna, President of the Ontario Nurses’ Association, wants to know what the working environment of health care workers represents that could contribute to many becoming sick from COVID-19.

“We are very concerned about the level of personal protective equipment that is provided to health care workers,” said McKenna in an interview.

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It is unclear how many of its members are health workers who have COVID-19. The data gaps are huge, she said. Some public health units test all workers exposed to the coronavirus. Others only test those who develop symptoms, she said.

Meanwhile, Dr. Fallis said he and his team have no choice but to continue. “This is something that our staff will take with us as we continue to try to provide hospital care to patients,” he said.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam Urges Canadians to Continue Strict Physical Distance Measurements as She Releases Reflections on the Number of Canadians Who Could Die from COVID- 19. The Canadian Press

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