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Canada COVID-19: Mission Institution nurse says ‘amazing’ team tackling outbreak

10:26  28 april  2020
10:26  28 april  2020 Source:   vancouversun.com

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When nurse Chelsea Jewell got the call at the beginning of April to help out at the COVID-19-infested Mission Institution, she didn’t hesitate.

“I said, ‘Sure, I’ll be there in the morning.’ And, you know, when I showed up, there were nurses from four, maybe five, other sites who were all volunteer.”

Jewell, who normally works at the women’s Fraser Valley Institution in Abbotsford, said the experience has been challenging, but amazing.

“The people that I’m working with, and the people that I’m working under, and the people that I’m working alongside, I couldn’t even begin to explain to you how hard-working and dedicated and selfless everybody has been,” said Jewell.

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As of Monday, 106 Mission inmates had tested positive for the virus — more than at any other Canadian prison. One has died. Twelve staff members have also been infected. 

 Nurses on the frontline of the Mission Institution COVID-19 outbreak. Nurses on the frontline of the Mission Institution COVID-19 outbreak.

Critics have slammed Correctional Service Canada management for its inaction in the early days of the outbreak at the medium-security prison. Last week, a lawyer filed a lawsuit on behalf of one of the inmates with COVID-19.

But Jewell wanted the public to know another side to what’s happening at the prison — the way nurses, correctional officers and other staff have worked as a team to come up with systems to deal with the unprecedented situation.

“Honestly, the first couple of days I would call it organized chaos. It was crazy. It was all over the place. We were all just figuring things out,” Jewell said. “And we’ve just somehow managed to come out the other side — now we’ve got good relationships with the inmates. The numbers are slowly but surely getting better.”

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She said nurses are working closely with the almost 300 inmates, who have been locked in their cells for weeks to stem the spread of the disease.

“They’re very frustrated. They’re asking, ‘How much longer is this going to go on for?’ They’re looking for information,” Jewell said. “We can only tell them little bits … but we can kind of lift their spirits, and we have a lot of good conversations with a lot of the inmates.” 

a sign in front of a fence: A guard tower at the Mission Institution correctional facility's medium security wing, where a prisoner who recently died from COVID-19 complications was held. © Jesse Winter/Reuters A guard tower at the Mission Institution correctional facility's medium security wing, where a prisoner who recently died from COVID-19 complications was held.

She said nurses check on the inmates twice a day, stressing that she means “every single inmate in every single cell in every single unit — whether they have COVID, or they don’t.”

If the nurse can’t answer an inmate’s question, they write it down and pass it to someone who can, she said.

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“We’re all just doing the best that we can, and the correctional officers that we’re working with are phenomenal as well.”

The nurses are not only tending to inmates’ medical needs, they are assisting with mental health issues exacerbated by the outbreak.

“A lot of them have really bad anxiety and claustrophobia, and some of them are having really bad panic attacks,” she said. “So we get to go and talk to them and … give them peace of mind that this isn’t going to go on forever. This is just what we have to do right now.”

Jewell trained as a psychiatric nurse, as have others who have volunteered to help at Mission during the outbreak.

“I think there’s five of us who have come on board who have mental health training, and so we get to engage with them in that capacity,” she said.

When she first arrived, it was a bit like “fighting a fire. We were just going in and we’re going, ‘Okay, well, we’ll see what happens.’”

But weeks later, things are better inside the prison, she said, praising the many staff members who have worked overtime and through breaks to get the job done, risking their own health in the process.

“I think that’s the most amazing part of this is, a lot of time maybe we were missing some direction or we didn’t exactly know what to do, but as a team — between the chief, the correctional officers and the nursing staff — we just figured it out.”

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Death toll at Orléans care home battling COVID-19 rises to 29 .
Twenty-nine residents of Madonna Care Community in Orléans have now died of COVID-19, says the operator of the long-term care home. In a Sunday statement to CBC News, Sienna Senior Living said another 45 residents have tested positive for the respiratory disease and are currently in isolation. "We are sadly grieving the loss of the 29 residents who have succumbed to the virus since the outbreak began and extend our deepest condolences to these families for their loss," the statement said. The number of deaths at the facility is almost double the 15 reported by Ottawa Public Health on Apr. 29, the last day for which data is available.

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