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Canada health care workers making wills due to COVID-19

Doctor suggests treatment of COVID-19 patients could be ‘suicide mission’

Barry Ellsworth   | 07.04.2020
Canada health care workers making wills due to COVID-19 File Photo


Health care professionals in Canada are making wills because of fear there will be a shortage of personal protection equipment (PPE) when dealing with COVID-19-infected patients, according to reports Tuesday.

“That’s a discussion I had just this week with my husband – and it’s something we all have been thinking about,” said Michelle Cohen, a family physician in the small town of Brighton, just outside of Toronto, told Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. “There’s been a lot of discussion about that with colleagues.”

She works at a clinic in Brighton, but has added her name to a list of doctors that will be called to a nearby hospital if patient load increases.

Already there are reports of mask shortages, and in some cases the masks are being used with a series of patients when the normal procedure is to change masks with each new patient to ensure full protection.

Cohen and 43,000 other Ontario Medical Association members were sent an email two weeks ago that provided instructions on how to update or write a will.

“It is not often that we think about our own safety,” the doctor said. “We do tend to have this kind of culture of self-sacrifice.

“(But) if we are asked to do something that is not safe for us, our families, our community and our patients, I think most people are going to start to wonder whether or not this is the right thing to do,” she said. “No one signed up to be on a suicide mission.”

At least 451 health care workers in Ontario have tested positive for COVID-19 as of April 6. That is 10% of cases in the province and Premier Doug Ford said there is enough PPE to last one more week. No figures were available on health-care worker deaths.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised in a news conference Tuesday that help is on the way. About 500,000 masks will be delivered to Canada on Wednesday from the 3M company in the U.S.

And he said 5,000 Canadian companies volunteered to help, including world-famous Canada Goose where management offered to sew materials for PPE.

As of 4 a.m. local time (0800GMT) Tuesday, Canada had 16,652 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 323 deaths.

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