Paramedics called in to support COVID-19 response at Brandon personal care home

Paramedics working in the Brandon, Man. area were called in to support the staff at Fairview Personal Care Home last week after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared on the fourth floor.

The added help was called in late in the week following the outbreak, which was announced on Tuesday. As of Thursday evening, 18 people had tested positive for COVID-19 in relation to the outbreak, according to Lanette Siragusa, Shared Health’s chief nursing officer.

“They will be expected to stay on site for the foreseeable future while the acuity, the needs are high,” Siragusa said at a press conference on Friday.

The union representing Brandon’s firefighters, paramedics and dispatchers says they are helping out during the nights on the fourth floor of the 24-bed facility, inserting IVs and giving medications. Other rural paramedics are doing similar tasks during the days.

“We’ve been told [care home staff] wanted the additional help and additional skill sets to treat patients within the care home to avoid transport to the hospital,” said Terry Browett, the president of IAFF Local 803.

“It helps reduce the stress with the added hands on deck,” Browett said.

On Friday, Siragusa said a similar model of care is being provided at the Gilbert Plains Personal Care Home, which is also in Prairie Mountain Health, and in Golden Links Lodge in Winnipeg. 

While the paramedics are happy to provide support to the personal care home, Browett says it’s putting some stress on the other work they have to do.

“We’re doing multiple trips to Winnipeg with COVID patients, and it’s an added staffing issue,” he said.

Working with infectious patients is also concerning to first responders like himself, Browett says, adding that they often pick up patients from Steinbach who are being hospitalized in Brandon, as well as tending to residents in personal care homes.

“The stress level is high. I’ve had members come to me worried about family members who have compromised immune systems.”

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