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Posted: August 2, 2020

Health care workers excluded from pandemic top up

Letter to the Editor

What is an essential frontline healthcare worker?

This is the question that I ask.

Could someone please explain it to me as to why some medical workers are essential and some are not? Like a clear definition of what our Canadian federal and provincial governments have classified as an essential frontline healthcare worker.

I ask this question because I am a certified Medical Office Assistant.

Yes, I actually went to school and have a diploma, this is not just a job for me. It was a chosen profession.

I work in a local (Cranbrook) family practice, for what the government calls your primary care giver, your family doctorā€™s offices. I am one of those voices on the other end of the phone when you call, I assist your family doctor with anything and everything they may need to ensure you, the patient gets the care that you need. I am there in the clinic every single day, with a smile on my face and love in my heart, to help you our patient maintain good health. I assist in minor procedures, including set up, clean up and sterilization of medical equipment. I assist in wound care, take vitals, ill help your grandfather take his shoes and socks off, file the paperwork for your mom’s end of life care. Maintaining social distancing in my position is absolutely impossible. I cannot assist a patient or family doctor without touching the patients.

At our clinic we never closed or locked our doors. We have been seeing patients, in person whenever it has been necessary to ensure they maintain the level of care that they need.

I love my job.

I thought myself to be the lucky one, yes literally one in my case. To actually keep my job during the COVID-19 Pandemic. I am currently one of only three remaining employees left working from a staff of seven. Sadly, our clinic had to lay off four of its employees. I’m very fortunate in that I have a wonderful work environment. Supportive employers and fellow employees, especially those whom stayed down in the trenches alongside me during this trying time.

I felt it was my duty to step up to the plate, to do what needed to be done to ensure none of our patients fell through the cracks. We show up every single day, we open those doors, answer the phones and put a smile on our faces, all the while feeling like we are doing our part.

But sadly, the government has informed us we are not essential frontline healthcare workers.

What? How can this be?

We see patients every single day!

In the government of B.C. release, regarding essential health care workers pandemic top up pay, it clearly states all primary care clinics are included. Oh but wait! There’s sub text saying fee for service providers are excluded, along with their direct employees. Well guess what, they forgot to mention…..all primary care clinics in B.C. are fee for service!

So was this release to the public, just a way to make the government look good? While in actual fact, a good majority of the frontline healthcare workers are purposely being excluded.

All family doctor clinic staff, all dentist clinic staff etc.

I am extremely disappointed in our government.

I have worked over 16 weeks straight, doing a job alone that normally would take four employees to do. It has been very exhausting and stressful. It has been especially hard on myself and most especially my family. I have had to leave my 13-year-old son totally alone for the most part through this whole pandemic; his mental and emotional health has definitely been effected in a negative manner. because of this we epically failed at his home schooling. I was simply too physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted to also be a teacher. All because I felt I was doing my part, well… this is an absolute slap in the face. To be told what I do for our patients every single day, is not essential.

I would like you all, our patients, along with my friends and family to know this.

So once again I ask our government, to please explain exactly why what I do every single day for our hundreds of patients, is not considered essential?

Shannon Kershaw,


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