CHSLD orderly in early 30s dies after contracting COVID-19
Union for facility in Saint-Jérôme had advocated for better protective equipment for workers
A patient attendant in her early 30s, who was working at a long-term care home in Saint-Jérôme, north of Montreal, has died of complications from the coronavirus.
Stéphanie Tessier had worked for the health board for the Laurentians region for about 10 years. The union representing her confirmed her death occurred Monday.
"She was very young," said Dominic Presseault, president of the union for health-care workers in the Laurentians.
"We're all in shock this morning."
Tessier had been working at the CHSLD Lucien-G.Rolland. At least 10 residents of them home have tested positive for COVID-19.
"This is a sad event that reminds us that we're all very vulnerable in the face of this crisis," Presseault said.
Tessier is the second patient attendant in the province to die after testing positive for the coronavirus. Just over a week ago, Victoria Salvan of the Grace Dart Extended Care Centre died.
Presseault said the union had been pressuring the local health board and CHSLD administration to provide employees with better protective equipment for weeks.
"I'm still asking myself questions about whether enough was done," to protect workers, Presseault said in an interview.
The health board, known by its French name, Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux (CISSS) des Laurentides, said it is in touch with family. It is conducting an investigation to determine if Tessier was infected by the virus at work.
"I share with our staff a great sadness at the loss of this devoted and appreciated colleague," said the local CISSS's president, Rosemonde Landry, in a statement.
The statement defended the CISSS's handling of protective measures, saying it has established measures to keep its workers safe.
"We cannot completely eliminate the risk of transmission given the number of human movements involved," the statement said. "The virus is circulating in the community and some people may be asymptomatic."
'I am speechless, sad, angry'
Hubert Forcier, the president of the union representing health-care workers in the province, noted in an email that Tessier died on the eve of the Workers' Memorial Day, an international day of remembrance for workers killed or injured on the job.
Several friends, family members and coworkers posted messages and condolences honouring Tessier on social media.
A woman named Mélanie Tessier, who said she was Stéphanie's cousin, posted a picture of the two of them, saying, "my beloved cousin left us today to go be with the angels."
"I am speechless, sad, angry and helpless. Life is so unfair. She didn't deserve that."