Ontario MPP returns to health-care front lines to assist COVID-19 pandemic response

Mississauga MPP Natalia Kusendova, is returning to her previous role as a registered nurse, to help alleviate the burden on her colleagues and assist with the fight against COVID-19.

Mississauga MPP Natalia Kusendova has been taking shifts at Etobicoke General Hospital

Natalia Kusendova is the MPP for Mississauga Centre and also a registered nurse, working at Etobicoke General Hospital. (Natalia Kusendova)

Natalia Kusendova is making the most of her time away from the Ontario Legislature, as it suspends the spring session temporarily amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Instead, the Mississauga Centre MPP is going back to her roots as a registered nurse at Etobicoke General Hospital. 

"I think my skills are best utilized right now in the emergency room with my colleagues and with my patients," she told CBC's Fresh Air on Sunday. 

Kusendova still attends to her constituents through phone calls and emails and keeps her office open remotely. But says she's trying to be a part of the "good fight."

"I think right now in the front lines is really where I want to be, you know, to help the front-line nurses and doctors and give some respite to my colleagues." 

Natalie Kusendova, left, has been working in the Emergency department as a registered nurse, taking on 12 hour shifts a few times a week. (Submitted by Natalia Kusendova)

Kusendova works 12-hour shifts three days a week. She says she's been a part of protected code blue simulations to see what it would be like and says it's been a good refresher for her skills. 

Kusendova isn't the only politician who was ready to return to the front lines amidst the pandemic. 

Kamal Khera, MP for Brampton West and a registered nurse, also signed up to return to service but fell ill with COVID-19 before she could start. 

Kusendova has been taking to social media to share photos of her life on the frontlines, and sharing tips and videos about protecting yourself against COVID-19. She says it's a good opportunity to provide people with a glimpse of what it's like to be inside a hospital. 

The Mississauga Centre MPP says she's been a part of simulations with her colleagues and respiratory therapists about how to respond to a code blue situation. (Submitted by Natalia Kusendova)

She says working in the ER is giving her a prime opportunity to better inform the government about what's happening on the front lines. 

"I do see myself as playing the role of that front-line health-care worker and being their voice in the legislature," she says.

She says she did inform the premier that it would be a good idea to create a hotline for the front-line staff to report shortages of PPE equipment anonymously without being worried about retribution from administration.  

Kusendova says she understands the risks when it comes to being an ER nurse, but says it's all a part of the job. 

"Pandemic or no pandemic, health-care providers, front-line workers do take risks when it comes to their health," she says. "So the risk that they take when they become health-care providers is something that they're quite well aware of."

Kusendova says she'll be working at the hospital for as long as it takes to flatten the curve. 

With files from the Nana aba Duncan