Coping with COVID-19
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Coping with COVID-19

How are you and your community supporting front-line workers? CLAC members and staff share their thoughts

Avani Suthar

Local 304 member and healthcare aide at a long term care home in Barrie, Ontario

I work at a long term care facility and we recently found out that one of our residents tested positive with asymptomatic COVID-19. Immediately, the public health department was informed and all the residents and employees were tested. Separate accommodation is being provided to the employees, who are more prone to transfer the infection to family members. Free meals are offered to shift workers. Wages have been increased temporarily. To prevent burnout among staff members, part-time workers are allowed to work more than 24 hours per week. As we know that this is a very critical situation, and to support the front-line workers, my facility is trying very hard to maintain the mental and physical safety of its employees.

Tammy Doxtater

CLAC Retirement Team staff member

A group of friends—we’ve been friends since high school, some 40 years—heard from an acquaintance that McNally House, a local hospice, was in desperate need of protective gowns. They couldn’t purchase their regular disposable gown, as none were available.

We had a pattern to make gowns, and in talking with a volunteer from McNally House, it was suggested they could be made of gently used bed sheets. We rallied together and came up with a pile of sheets and the process began.

Initially, we had two people who could sew, two people cutting patterns, and a few who were ironing the sheets. The hospice said they would need 160 gowns.

With the current numbers, the process was slow. So, we made flyers and distributed them in local neighbourhoods, explaining what we were doing, and that sheets could be dropped off on our front porch.

Well, the sheets came in, and in, and in. Now, we needed more sewers!

So I posted the need on my Facebook page, and one of my friends reached out to me saying she belonged to a group of 60 sewing ladies who had just made a bunch of masks for hospitals. She would ask if any would like to switch from masks to gowns.

Many of the ladies were up for the challenge, so sheets and patterns were dropped off, and things began to move much more quickly. Two of my coworkers, Jenn Guther and Kathy Page, also offered to sew. In their spare time, they were able to make 15 gowns in total.

To date, we have donated 190 gowns to McNally House. Word got out and a few other places contacted us expressing their needs. We donated 60 gowns to Niagara Hospice, 50 to Community Living in Grimsby, and 107 to local long term care homes, including 67 to Heidehof For The Care Of The Aged in St. Catharines, whose employees are represented by CLAC Local 302.

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