New Brunswick

Hospital staff report theft of supplies used to control spread of COVID-19

Members of the New Brunswick Nurses Union have raised an alarm about people stealing masks, gloves and hand sanitizer from New Brunswick healthcare facilities.

Authorities call on staff to use equipment responsibly

"We were advised that in one of our emergency departments that patients were going in and removing anything off the walls," said union president Paula Doucet. (Jennifer Lee/CBC)

Members of the New Brunswick Nurses Union have raised an alarm about people stealing masks, gloves and hand sanitizer from New Brunswick healthcare facilities.

"We were advised that in one of our emergency departments that patients were going in and removing anything off the walls," said union president Paula Doucet.

"So that was rather alarming to us to note that there is a mass hysteria out there in the public and that they feel it necessary to go into these healthcare facilities and take what they need to protect themselves."

This follows a warning in Nova Scotia last week.

Friday, the president and CEO of the Nova Scotia Health Authority said he'd been informed that personal protection equipment had been disappearing at an unusual rate.

"There will be zero tolerance for anybody taking any of this equipment out of facilities or supply areas," said Brendan Carr.

"If you've done that not understanding the severity of this or the potential impact of it, I'm asking that people bring this equipment back."

"Because we are going to need it and this is potentially going to have an impact on one of your fellow staff members and their ability to look after a sick patient a few weeks from now."

Theft of supplies concerns New Brunswick Nurses Union

CBC News New Brunswick

1 year ago
1:17
Patients have been removing ‘anything off the walls or waiting rooms, particularly masks and hand sanitizers’ said the president of the New Brunswick Nurses Union Paula Doucet. 1:17

No evidence public stealing

The issue was raised Monday afternoon at the New Brunswick government's daily media briefing on the province's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Horizon's chief of staff said he had no evidence that the public was stealing.

But Dr. John Dornan says he is worried about running out of products, particularly the N95 masks, which are designed to protect people from airborne particles.

"We have told our staff please don't hoard this stock," he said. 

"It's not yours, it's ours. And we are trying to manage it appropriately."

"We have told our staff please don't hoard this stock," said Dr. John Dornan, the regional chief of staff for the Horizon Health Network. (CBC)

Dornan says if staff use supplies as prescribed, there shouldn't be a shortage.  

Premier Blaine Higgs also weighed in on what he called the  "over-use" of resources or missing resources.

"The biggest challenge we're going to have is if people don't think about their neighbours... and we get into a situation where someone says, 'I'm fine because my garage is full of supplies'."

"You know, that's not what is going to pull us through this."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rachel Cave is a CBC reporter based in Saint John, New Brunswick.

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