Northern Ontario PSW infected with COVID-19 speaks out
TIMMINS -- The difficulties continue for the Extendicare nursing home in Kapuskasing, where dozens of people have been infected with COVID-19 and 13 people have died as a result.
Melanie Lebrun is a personal support worker (PSW) that works at the long-term care home who tested positive for the disease and is in quarantine to protect her family.
Lebrun has been staying at a motel since the COVID-19 outbreak was declared at the facility saying she didn't want to risk exposing her family.
She is speaking out because she wants people to learn from what many PSWs like herself are enduring. "It's really hard for everybody and we're doing those sacrifices for the good health of everybody," Lebrun said. "We want to keep everybody safe and healthy. We don't want anyone to be sick and passing away from this."
She posted a video on social media to share her story, imploring people to do what it takes to keep everyone safe from the virus.
While in quarantine, Lebrun said it has been heartbreaking to hear of colleagues and residents contracting the virus and of the 13 residents who have died.
"They're dying alone. Their families can't be there with them, so that's really hard," she said.
Extendicare's head office issues daily updates on the outbreak and as of Monday at 11 a.m., there are 33 active cases of COVID-19 at the care home in Kapuskasing. Of those active cases, 19 are residents and 14 are staff members. Officials also said 29 residents have had their first dose of the vaccine along with several staff members. The facility continues to employ health measures and hire staff to contain the situation.
"We will work with the Porcupine Health Unit to provide vaccines to additional residents as their cases resolve, and to our team members as further vaccine supply is made available," Extendicare said.
Kapuskasing's mayor, David Plourde, commends the home and its front-line workers.
"There's going to be a number of them coming off isolation and ready to go back to work now. Seeing that we're coming to — hopefully, what we're all crossing our fingers and hoping is — the end of what we've seen and we can start to see the light at the end of the tunnel," Plourde said.
Lebrun's quarantine ends Friday and she said some family time is long overdue before it's back to caring for residents.
"I just really feel like I have to be there to help them, they need me," Lebrun said.
She said her COVID symptoms are behind her and hopes people take her ordeal to heart as a cautionary tale as we all continue to battle this pandemic.
"I just want everybody else in the community to see that sacrifices need to be done in order for us to be safe," Lebrun said.
Edited by Chelsea Papineau, Digital Content Specialist