CORNWALL, Ontario – Kelsey Schmitz is raising concerns about the testing of Personal Support Workers (PSW)s for COVID-19 after her father was exposed to the virus during the course of his at home care.
Schmitz explained that her father, Dave, lives with an autoimmune disease, and that he receives at home care from PSWs provided through Bayshore Home Health. Due to his condition, Schmitz’s father is at risk for serious complications should he contract COVID-19.
The Schmitz family found out on Feb. 25 that a PSW who had been in the home to care for her father had tested positive for COVID-19. The PSW had been in the home on Feb. 21.
Fortunately, Schmitz’s father has since tested negative for COVID-19.
“Even before this happened to us, this was something I was concerned about,” Schmitz explained.
Schmitz explained that she had spoken to a number of PSWs and that only one had been tested for COVID-19 in the past six months.
Of concern for Schmitz is that PSWs who work in long-term care facilities can immediately begin working in at home care settings.
“I want to see mandatory testing of PSWs and a plan to get them vaccinated quickly,” Schmitz said.
Schmitz noted that many PSWs have heavy schedules and are expected to see many patients per day, but are not given the time by their employer to go and get a test if they need one.
Schmitz said that she reached out to both Bayshore Home Health and her local MPP Jim McDonell with her concerns.
When Seaway News spoke with Schmitz, she stated that she had yet to hear back from McDonell’s office, although she did state that later that day she was contacted by a representative of his office who directed her concerns to the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU).
McDonell left a voicemail message with Seaway News in regards to inquiries about this story.
“We want to make sure that our patients are treated with the upmost courtesy and safety,” McDonell said. “We will be following up to make sure our service providers are providing that level of care.”
McDonell’s office also sent Seaway News updated guidelines for PSWs from the Ministry of Health, which suggested twice daily self-screenings for COVID-19, but do not require regular testing.
Seaway News reached out to Bayshore Home Health for comment on this story, but have not heard back as of time of writing.
As for Schmitz, she has stated that her family will no longer be using PSWs for at home care. They do have a nurse who comes to support her father’s health care once a week, who has been vaccinated for COVID-19, but that most of the care is now falling on her mother, and herself.