“Disappointing and Demoralizing” says Nurses’ union on province’s COVID-19 response

After the Government of Saskatchewan announced COVID-19 changes, the Saskatchewan Union of Nures (SUN) isn’t happy with what was rolled out.

The province no longer requires a PCR test for asymptomatic residents if a positive test is found during a rapid home test and has also announced isolation restrictions moving from ten to five days.

President of the SUN Tracy Zambory said they are very disappointed with the announcement.

“We didn’t see anything proactive. It’s like we learned nothing from the fourth wave, and we are just continuing on with this wait-and-see attitude, personal responsibility approach that brought the system to its knees, gasping for breath in the fourth wave,” she said. “It appears we are going to continue ourselves down that road.”

Zambory said she is concerned about the impact on the healthcare system.

“We have a health/human resource crisis, and this is going to do nothing to stop that in any way. It is only likely going to add to it,” she said.

She said SUN would have liked to see gathering limits implemented and some sort of plan in place for when kids head back to school next week.

“How are we to do all these things to make sure we are keeping people safe in the healthcare system that’s already in a tailspin. How are we going to be able to manage?” she asked. “This onslaught of Omicron that’s in Ontario, in Manitoba, and they are feeling the devastation of it, and we are in trouble, and what happened isn’t going to change that,” she said.

She said she really doesn’t understand the isolation period being cut down or the increased focus on using rapid tests.

“We are not sure where the scientific evidence is to support the five days of isolation. You just have to look across research to see there isn’t a whole lot of support there or evidence to say that this is a viable way to move forward,” she stated. “Why is this being done? Is it being done to keep people or get people back to work because we have a healthcare system that is still reeling from the fourth wave and healthcare workers who are depressed and finding it very difficult to come to work and are not feeling supported by the employer.”

“We are also really concerned about any sort of suggestion that people should think twice about getting a PCR test. The rapid tests are an important tool in the toolbox, but they should not be relied upon for complete accuracy as to whether you are positive or not.”

Zambory points out several instances in the last ten days where she knows people who have tested themselves with rapid tests and got a negative result, but then go and get the PCR test and test positive.

“The reliability of the rapid test to be that end all and be all is very troubling to even insinuate that people should avoid going and getting a PCR test. We think it’s very wrong-headed and dangerous.”

She also has a problem with the province not paying attention to the daily numbers.

“What’s happening here is that we are only going to be looking at incidental hospitalizations to see perhaps if they have COVID or not, but that is not the main reason they’ve gone into hospital,” Zambory said. “This is a head-scratcher for us. As registered nurses, we live and breathe and science, research, and across the country and the world that we’ve not seen this approach. This is a different approach to trying to track COVID and see the safety and where we are at. It makes us wonder how Saskatchewan can have this unique approach, and yet the rest of the world is doing something different.”

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