Virginia Monton is President of CUPE 2719, she works at Maples Personal Care Home in Winnipeg, Manitoba. We reached out to Virginia to speak with her about what life was like working in long-term care during a pandemic. We found her in the midst of a COVID outbreak in her workplace, and this is what she shared with us.

Life working in a long-term care home has been extra challenging these days. The fear of your safety and health is always there. We have a moral responsibility to our residents, and we need to be there to ensure all of their needs are met.

Before the pandemic, we were already struggling with the staff to resident ratio. Now, during the pandemic, the shortage of staff has made it even worse.

Unfortunately, in a span of weeks numerous staff have contracted the virus. To find replacements for staff that are on self-isolation has been difficult. 

Even though I am away on medical leave, I am still working from home trying to reach out to our members to consider working extra hours to help fill in the gaps. I told them that I know it is physically and mentally hard on everyone, but we need to be there for the residents. 

The only time I stopped communicating with them was when I became very weak. Having a fever for 10 consecutive days is not easy, not knowing if you will survive is a very scary feeling. Pneumonia and dehydration have also affected my blood pressure. 

I am slowly recuperating, and still waiting for further tests required by my doctor. 

My goal now as a COVID survivor is to continue communicating to our members the importance of physical/social distancing and PPE. 

This is especially important at the workplace during coffee/lunch breaks.

The importance of wearing our PPE as well as exercising proper hand washing. 

Please stay safe, take care of yourself and your family.