PANDEMIC #7 - The Frontline
COMMONS
PANDEMIC #7 – The Frontline
Long-term care workers are in the vanguard in the war against COVID-19. They’re not the kinds of workers who get movies or TV shows made about them. In fact, their stories are rarely told. But not only are they battling heroically against this pandemic. They’re fighting for recognition and respect within a system built to marginalize them.
June 3, 2020

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Long-term care workers are in the vanguard in the war against COVID-19. They’re not the kinds of workers who get movies or TV shows made about them. In fact, their stories are rarely told. But not only are they battling heroically against this pandemic. They’re fighting for recognition and respect within a system built to marginalize them. 

COMMONS: Pandemic is currently focusing on how COVID-19 is affecting long-term care in Canada.

 

Featured in this episode: Joadel Concepcion, Joanna Bulatao, Lisa Burke, Naomi Lightman, Zaid Noorsumar

To learn more:

“‘We are dropping like flies,’ says Ontario home care nurse” by Zaid Noorsumar in Rank and File

“Fear and exhaustion: Working as a PSW in long-term care during the coronavirus” by Alanna Mitchell in Maclean’s

“Comparing Care Regimes: Worker Characteristics and Wage Penalties in the Global Care Chain” by Naomi Lightman in Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State & Society

 

This episode is sponsored by Freshbooks

Additional music from Audio Network

 

TRANSCRIPT: 

 

EPISODE 7 – “THE FRONTLINE”

 

COLD OPEN

[ARSHY MANN]

Joadel Concepcion’s been working as a registered nurse in long-term care for almost two decades. And she remembers the last time things seemed this frightening. It was 2003. That was when a different coronavirus was sweeping the world, causing Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or “SARS” for short. 

 

[JOADEL CONCEPCION]

During SARS time there is a lot of nurses <indistinct> got sick. Even my sister-in-law, she got sick. We have that fear. Why am I going to have this stress again? We don’t know.

 

[ARSHY]

So when she started feeling feverish in early April, Joadel went out to get tested right away.

 

[CONCEPCION]

My first symptoms started on a Saturday, which is April four. I went right away to Scarborough Grace to get tested. And then when I came back home, I had a little bit of OCD for even from SRS time. So when–when I came home, I took a shower because I thought the fever will just subside.

 

[ARSHY]

But the fever didn’t subside. Instead, the symptoms started to get more intense.

 

[CONCEPCION]

I was coughing. I was vomiting. When my husband give me the food, like… I don’t have an appetite. I don’t smell it and I don’t taste it.

 

[ARSHY]

For a few days, Joadel stayed at home, trying to get rest and stay hydrated. But by April 8, she was having trouble breathing. 

 

[CONCEPCION]

My airway’s blocked. I can’t breathe. You want to like raise your chest or trying to catch the air, but you can’t. That’s how I feel.

 

[ARSHY]

She asked her son to drive her to Scarborough Grace Hospital. And when they got to the emergency room, a man was outside screening people and asking them questions.

 

[CONCEPCION]

He was saying, “I have to screen you.” I said, “No, don’t screen me.” And I feel like I’m going to die. I can’t breathe.

 

[ARSHY]

The man tried to determine whether she should come wait in the emergency room.

 

[CONCEPCION]

And I can tell my son and my husband are crying. Yelling at them, “Don’t come near me. Don’t come near me.” So I said to one of the staff, I said, “I’m gonna pass out. Please help me. I have COVID. I’m an RN and I work in long-term care.” That’s all I said. And then they took me right away

 

[ARSHY]

They put her on oxygen. But then they realized she was developing congestive heart failure. So they gave her injections, antibiotics, anti-clotting agents… Luckily, Joadel had gotten there in time. She didn’t die. She’s now out of the hospital and fully recovered. 

But a lot of people haven’t been so lucky. Since the beginning of the pandemic, thousands of long-term care workers have come down with COVID-19. And 16 of them have died.

I’m Arshy Mann, and from CANADALAND, this is Commons.

 

PART ONE

[ARSHY]

In stories about long-term care, the workers are often left out of the picture. It’s the nurses, the personal support workers and so many others in these facilities that really have been on the front-line of this pandemic. But they’re work isn’t viewed as sexy or captivating. After all, people don’t make TV shows or movies about long-term care, like they do with hospitals. 

And compared to their counterparts in emergency rooms and critical care units, their frontline labour is often devalued. 

 

[NAOMI LIGHTMAN]

And they’re often what we refer to as the three “D”s. So, jobs that are dirty, difficult, and, especially during times of a health pandemic, highly dangerous. My name is Naomi Lightman and I’m an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Calgary. My research focuses on the intersection between gender, migration, race and care work.

 

[ARSHY]

According to her research, it’s clear that these jobs, especially personal support workers who provide a big chunk of the day-to-day care, are occupied by specific kinds of people. 

 

[LIGHTMAN]

So this is overwhelmingly a female workforce and it’s very much racialized. When we talk just broadly about racialized women, it doesn’t actually capture it. It’s really specifically two groups that we’re talking about. We’re talking about black women and Filipino women who are, in the case of black women, over two times as likely as white women to be working in these jobs and with Filipino women over three times as likely.

 

[ARSHY]

And the people working in these types of positions are also much more likely to be recent immigrants. 

 

[LIGHTMAN]

So, when we look at personal support workers or people working specifically in long term care institutions, these are, in fact, among the most precarious and the lowest wage workers, especially in private institutions. 

When we compare them to just the average worker and we’re still controlling for factors like their education and their family structure… So holding these factors constant, we see that there is a 40 percent wage penalty for low-skill care work.

 

[ARSHY]

Naomi Lightman says that this is because caring for people has historically been viewed as, quote-unquote, women’s work. 

 

[LIGHTMAN]

And I think as this kind of work has entered the paid labor force, we’ve continued to view it through a lens of work that doesn’t really matter or doesn’t hold the same value to other types of paid work. So, we rely on women who are coming from the Global South to do this work that we don’t want to do, and we continue to view it as labor that doesn’t hold the same value as other kinds of work.

 

[ARSHY]

Lisa Burke is a personal support worker at peopleCare Oakcrossing, a long-term care facility in London, Ontario. Here’s what a typical day looks like for her. 

 

[LISA BURKE]

I work straight day-shifts. I work 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. When we get to our unit, we have to come a few minutes early to get a report. There’s usually three to four staff to 32 residents. 

We get report. They tell us if there’s anybody who’s been hospitalized, any changes, any med changes, any behaviors, any falls, anything like that. We have two hours to get the 32 residents up, dressed, bathed, hairbrush, teeth in, and into the dining room to be fed for breakfast. Some of these residents are aggressive. Some of the residents are fairly independent. And we just have to help with small things, like picking out their clothes.

Some people need total care where they have to be dressed, rolled, changed, use a mechanical lift.  If we have to use a mechanical lift  there has to be a minimum of two people to then get that person up and into their wheelchair. We’re supposed to chart at the same time as getting them ready, which is near impossible. And then we have an hour to feed them breakfast. Most times we don’t get into the dining room exactly when we’re supposed to. We’re usually late because there’s just so much care to be done and we don’t have enough people to do it.

And then we have to feed them. We’re only supposed to feed two people at a time. So a lot of people have to wait to get their meal because we can only feed two people at a time.

After breakfast, we would have to take them back to their rooms. If we can, get a break in. And then you would start toileting residents. Helping, taking them to activities, changing them. Some people lay down for a nap. Finish some baths. And then you would get people back up, toilet people, and then we’d go for lunch, and feed them lunch, the same thing. And then we have like an hour to get people out of the dining room and then back to the rooms, toilet them, change them, lay them down for a nap, if they need to have a nap, and try to chart and get everything done at the same time.

 

[ARSHY]

Lisa Burke says that her home is always understaffed. And when they ask for more help, management tells them that they don’t have enough funding. 

 

[BURKE]

We don’t have enough staff at all to give any of the residents the type of care they need and deserve.

 

[ARSHY]

Zaid Noorsumar is a labour reporter who’s been covering long-term care workers. And he says that, even as the care needs of long-term residents have been growing, staff aren’t getting more of the resources they need.

 

[ZAID NOORSUMAR]

Residents coming into long-term care now have increasingly complex needs and they require a higher level of care, while, at the same time, the staffing ratios have not kept up. They haven’t been increased in accordance with the acuity of patients. So that’s a big factor, and what that means is that staff are constantly rushing. They’re running around. They don’t have the time to spend with residents.

 

[BURKE]

People think that we get paid this giant amount of money and that we’re lazy because we’re complaining that we don’t have enough time or the manpower to do the work. I don’t think they know how physically, mentally, emotionally draining the job actually is.

 

[ARSHY]

Joanna Bulatao agrees. She’s a registered practical nurse at Villa Leonardo Gambin, the same facility that Joedel Concepcion works at. 

 

[JOANNA BULATAO]

A lot of our staff, they’re constantly, like… Overwork themselves or, like, they really give their all when they’re providing, like, care to our residents. And it gets very, very tiring, like, especially during now. It does get exhausting. It’s not that we don’t want to provide care. It’s just that we become so drained because we want to help.

 

[ARSHY]

And long-term care workers form close personal bonds with the people they take care of.

 

[NOORSUMAR]

They think of residents as their family members, and they really feel they–they want to provide the best care that they can. In fact, one of the workers that I spoke with, who used to be in home care… I think now she works long-term care. She said, “Mentally, it’s a very draining job. You get attached to your client and then you get frustrated because you know the need for care but they aren’t getting it. Most of us PSWs are the type that, if the client’s having a bad day, it’s hard not to take that with you. And she said, after years and years of not being able to provide health care, she was burned out and she quit. She said, “I started my car and I started crying and I couldn’t stop.” And that’s the day she quit.

 

[ARSHY]

All of the workers we spoke to said the same thing: the people they care for become like family to them.

 

[BURKE]

Even when we have a person who becomes palliative or passes away, a part of us goes with them, too. Like, a lot of the time we’re in the room with them, or with the family. We’re crying with the family. Or even if they’re alone, we’re with them, holding them, as they take their last breath. Like, it’s… It’s like losing a part of your family. 

 

[BULATAO]

I think people don’t really realize that, like, when you’re with the same residents, they kind of become like a part of you. Like, they become, like, your–your family. That’s–that’s who we’re taking care of. We’re taking care of them just like we would our grandparents.

 

PART TWO

[ARSHY]

Joadel Concepcion, who you heard at the top of the show, came to Canada from the Philippines in 1995. She first worked as a nanny and then took some courses and became a registered nurse. Soon, she was working in long-term care. And, since 2004, she’s been working at Villa Leonardo Gambin, a long-term care home in Woodbridge, Ontario. The home was built for the nearby Italian community, so in order to be able to care for the residents, Jodel’s learned as much Italian as she could.

 

[CONCEPCION]

So you have to encourage them and say… [speaking Italian]

 

[ARSHY]

Villa Leonardo Gambin is technically a non-profit home, but it’s run by Sienna, one of the largest for-profit long-term care providers. The home would have pandemic preparedness training every year and Joadel was one of the people tasked with ensuring that people’s masks fit properly. By early March of this year, Joadel was getting more and more worried about COVID-19. She’d had family members who had gotten SARS, and she knew how scary things could get.

And she says that, early on, it became clear that the staff weren’t going to get the proper personal protective equipment. By mid-March, the doctor who used to come do rounds refused to enter the building.  

 

[CONCEPCION]

They don’t do rounds in the building because they know that the administrator is not giving him PPE. Dr. Bujon will only do OTN with me using my cell phone to see his patients from the middle of March, or almost third week of March.

 

[ARSHY]

By the weekend of March 27th, some of the residents on Joadel’s floor started coming down with COVID-19 symptoms, like fevers and coughs. And the staff started to ask management for masks. 

 

[CONCEPCION]

When are they giving us mass? This resident is coughing. We don’t have enough masks. We’re talking about surgical masks, okay? She says, “I gave you guys. If you finish it, that’s your problem.” That’s always her comment. Everybody knew that. 

 

[ARSHY]

And because Joadel is the union steward, staff started to come to her, saying that they were short on PPE. But Joadel says that when she took those concerns to management, they were just brushed off.

 

[CONCEPCION]

What? Did I told you to talk to me? I told her to talk to me. Why she’s telling you? I said, no, she’s telling me now, because I’m the union steward. It’s my responsibility to follow up. So then she says, “Well, the public health say that you have to wear masks.”

 

[ARSHY]

A spokesperson for Sienna denied that staff at Villa Leonardo Gambin were ever told not to wear PPE, especially when they were supporting residents displaying respiratory flu-like symptoms. Over the next few days, a number of residents started to experience upper respiratory issues, a telltale COVID-19 symptom. 

 

[CONCEPCION]

And some staff, they put on their own from their home. They would get mad at you.

 

[ARSHY]

Joadel says that the message from management was clear. Because Public Health Ontario had yet to mandate it, no one had to wear a mask. And so they weren’t going to be provided any. Joanna Bulatao says that it was very difficult for staff members to get PPE.

 

[BULATAO]

I don’t think that they were prepared for that to spread to other floors, because when it did, it didn’t really feel, like, that we had as much supplies and they felt like we were, like, pulling teeth to get, like, the supplies because we were running low in the home.

 

[ARSHY]

The staff continued to work in close proximity to each other and to provide bedside care. And all the while, residents were moving around the facility. 

 

[CONCEPCION]

They’re in the rooms, but they come out. They’re wandering. What are you going to do, tie them on their beds? You’re going to lose your job.

 

[ARSHY]

On March 28, Joadel says that managers asked her to test a number of residents for COVID-19, even though it wasn’t her job. She wasn’t given the proper PPE, but she did it anyways. The next day, another nurse came down with a fever. And within a week, Joadel came down with one, too. That same day, she heard that one of the residents she had tested was now positive. 

Within another week, Joadel Concepcion was in the emergency room at Scarborough Grace Hospital, convinced that she was going to die. 

 

[CONCEPCION]

I have a lot of diarrhea, vomiting, and so my potassium is low. My heart arrhythmia acted up. I developed congestive heart failure. I had COVID-19 pneumonia.

 

[ARSHY]

Joadel prayed to God that she would survive and be able to spend time with her family. 

 

[CONCEPCION]

I’m not a perfect human being. Just give me another chance to live. I still want to see my son get married and have grandkids. And, you know, um, He has to give me another chance to live again.

But you know, Arshy, I was… I was just praying. And I just prayed and I said, “God…” And you’re making me cry. [indistinct] It’s so sad.

 

[ARSHY]

But during that time, she couldn’t help but feel betrayed. She had thought that her managers were her friends, that they looked out for her.

 

[CONCEPCION]

I work… I worked with these managers for many years. And I… I… I’m not nobody to them. And then they… Just to give me the N95. They says there’s no supply.

 

[ARSHY]

While she was sitting in that hospital bed recovering, Joedel was amazed by what she saw around her. The protocols, the protections in the hospital were nothing like  in long-term care. 

 

[CONCEPCION]

When I was in Scarborough Grace, they disinfect. They come to my room three times, the full shift, the whole day, to take the garbage. Do proper disinfection. They’re wearing double masks, one N95 and the surgical mask under facial, and double gowns, and three pairs of gloves. In long term care, you share everything. They don’t do proper disinfection from the beginning before the COVID. How about now?

 

[ARSHY]

At least twelve residents of Villa Leonardo Gambin have died of COVID-19. And, according to Joadel, 31 employees, including herself, have been infected with the coronavirus. She says that the last staff member who got sick was on May 17the, a month and a half after the outbreak began. 

We reached out to Sienna for comment about all of this, and, in an emailed statement, they said that throughout the pandemic, their highest priority has been to ensure the safety of their team members and residents. They say that they ensured ample supplies of PPE were available, including N95 masks, and that charge nurses have access to the residence’s storage room to ensure that team members can acquire new PPE at all times.

According to Sienna, team members were encouraged to wear PPE provided by the home, instead of their own, to ensure it met the appropriate standard, and they thanked their team members for their heroic work and their ongoing dedication throughout this pandemic.

 

OUTRO

[ARSHY]

As the COVID-19 outbreak was sweeping through the long-term care facility where she worked, Joanna Bulatao was scared.

 

[BULATAO]

It was horrible. <laughs> I mean, it’s like a whole internal battle with yourself because it’s like you want to go into work, you want to help yourself. You want to help your residents. Like, you want to be there and–and do your job. Like, you want to actually help them. But obviously, at the back of your mind, you’re always thinking, like, “Oh, my God, what if I get sick? Like, what if I bring this home to my family? What if I…” You know, “What if I… What if I’m a carrier?”

 

[ARSHY]

And like so many of her colleagues, she became infected and had to stop coming into work.

 

[BULATAO]

As a nurse, I want to be helping. I want to be there. I want to give as much as I can during, like, these difficult times. And knowing that I can’t, and knowing that as I want to, I can’t do anything about it. It’s really frustrating. And it really takes a toll on, like, mental health. And it’s just the worst feeling ever.

 

[ARSHY]

But what got to her the most was that so many of the people she was charged with caring for are now dead. She was stationed on the floor that lost the most residents. 

 

 [BULATAO]

It was honestly the hardest thing. When I found out that, like, residents were starting to pass on a unit, it was… Either I was breaking down on–on the phone when someone was telling me or I was trying to, like, hold it together. And, it’s just because you build that relationship with them. You remember all of the memories that you have with them. And then to just think that, like, “Oh, well, that’s all you have now, are just memories.” It’s… It’s very hard. Very hard.

 

[ARSHY]

Lisa Burke was lucky enough to not become infected with the coronavirus. But she is frustrated by the state of long-term care. And she thinks enough is enough. 

 

[BURKE]

We’ve been… Us, like, in the union, have been yelling, like, “We need more help, we need more staff, we need more of this.” Like, you guys need to come in and regulate more things. And I just think it’s–it’s very, very sad that a pandemic has to show the world what we’ve been shouting for many, many years now. 

We are the backbone of the healthcare system, and a lot of people just don’t see the hard work and the dedication of long-term care employees.

 

END CREDITS

[ARSHY]

That’s your episode of Commons for the week. If you want to support us, click on the link in your show notes or go to commonspodcast.com

This episode relied on work done by Naomi Lightman, Zaid Noorsumar, Tamara Daly, Pat Armstrong and Nora Loreto.

If you want to get in touch with us, you can tweet at us at @COMMONSpod. You can also email me, Arshy@canadalandshow.com

This episode was produced by me and Jordan Cornish, with additional production by Tiffany Lam. Our managing editor is Andréa Schmidt. And our music is by Nathan Burley. 

If you like what we do, please help us make this show. Click on the link in your shownotes or go to commonspodcast.com

 

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Following the tragedy in Paris, Desmond talks to Imam Syed Soharwardy, founder of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada, and Amira Elghawaby, communications director for the National Council of Canadian Muslims, about the backlash Canadian Muslims face when terrorist attacks carried out in the name of Islam.
February 3, 2016
Don’t Let Harper Happen Here: Wab Kinew on Entering Politics
Wab Kinew talks about systemic racism against Indigenous peoples in Canada and why he's turned to politics to try to make the changes he wants to see.
February 8, 2016
40
George Elliott Clarke: A Polyphony of Canadian Blacknesses
The Parliamentary Poet Laureate talks about working for a pioneering black MP, Canada's multitude of black histories and his problem with telephone companies.
February 15, 2016
41
Legal Weed is Bad for Poor People
We talk to a Liberal MP and a criminal defense lawyer about what legalisation means for the people who built the markets.
February 22, 2016
42
Live From U of Ottawa: Refugees Welcome, But Bad News About the Job Market…
When Canadian University grads work at Starbucks and immigrant doctors drive taxis, how will refugees get on their feet?
February 29, 2016
43
Rogue Senators
Senator Diane Bellemare quit the Conservative caucus, saying pressure to toe the party line is getting in the way of Senators doing their jobs.
March 14, 2016
44
Canada’s Arms Deals: Beyond Saudi Arabia
Support us at commonspodcast.com Long-term care workers are in the vanguard in the war against COVID-19. They’re not the kinds of workers who get movies or TV shows made about them. In fact, their stories are rarely told. But not only are they battling heroically against this pandemic. They’re fighting for recognition and respect within a system built to marginalize them.  COMMONS: Pandemic is currently focusing on how COVID-19 is affecting long-term care in Canada.   Featured in this episode: Joadel Concepcion, Joanna Bulatao, Lisa Burke, Naomi Lightman, Zaid Noorsumar To learn more: “‘We are dropping like flies,’ says Ontario home care nurse” by Zaid Noorsumar in Rank and File “Fear and exhaustion: Working as a PSW in long-term care during the coronavirus” by Alanna Mitchell in Maclean’s “Comparing Care Regimes: Worker Characteristics and Wage Penalties in the Global Care Chain” by Naomi Lightman in Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State & Society   This episode is sponsored by Freshbooks Additional music from Audio Network   TRANSCRIPT:    EPISODE 7 – “THE FRONTLINE”   COLD OPEN [ARSHY MANN] Joadel Concepcion’s been working as a registered nurse in long-term care for almost two decades. And she remembers the last time things seemed this frightening. It was 2003. That was when a different coronavirus was sweeping the world, causing Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or “SARS” for short.    [JOADEL CONCEPCION] During SARS time there is a lot of nurses <indistinct> got sick. Even my sister-in-law, she got sick. We have that fear. Why am I going to have this stress again? We don’t know.   [ARSHY] So when she started feeling feverish in early April, Joadel went out to get tested right away.   [CONCEPCION] My first symptoms started on a Saturday, which is April four. I went right away to Scarborough Grace to get tested. And then when I came back home, I had a little bit of OCD for even from SRS time. So when–when I came home, I took a shower because I thought the fever will just subside.   [ARSHY] But the fever didn’t subside. Instead, the symptoms started to get more intense.   [CONCEPCION] I was coughing. I was vomiting. When my husband give me the food, like… I don’t have an appetite. I don’t smell it and I don’t taste it.   [ARSHY] For a few days, Joadel stayed at home, trying to get rest and stay hydrated. But by April 8, she was having trouble breathing.    [CONCEPCION] My airway’s blocked. I can’t breathe. You want to like raise your chest or trying to catch the air, but you can’t. That’s how I feel.   [ARSHY] She asked her son to drive her to Scarborough Grace Hospital. And when they got to the emergency room, a man was outside screening people and asking them questions.   [CONCEPCION] He was saying, “I have to screen you.” I said, “No, don’t screen me.” And I feel like I’m going to die. I can’t breathe.   [ARSHY] The man tried to determine whether she should come wait in the emergency room.   [CONCEPCION] And I can tell my son and my husband are crying. Yelling at them, “Don’t come near me. Don’t come near me.” So I said to one of the staff, I said, “I’m gonna pass out. Please help me. I have COVID. I’m an RN and I work in long-term care.” That’s all I said. And then they took me right away   [ARSHY] They put her on oxygen. But then they realized she was developing congestive heart failure. So they gave her injections, antibiotics, anti-clotting agents… Luckily, Joadel had gotten there in time. She didn’t die. She’s now out of the hospital and fully recovered.  But a lot of people haven’t been so lucky. Since the beginning of the pandemic, thousands of long-term care workers have come down with COVID-19. And 16 of them have died. I’m Arshy Mann, and from CANADALAND, this is Commons.   PART ONE [ARSHY] In stories about long-term care, the workers are often left out of the picture. It’s the nurses, the personal support workers and so many others in these facilities that really have been on the front-line of this pandemic. But they’re work isn’t viewed as sexy or captivating. After all, people don’t make TV shows or movies about long-term care, like they do with hospitals.  And compared to their counterparts in emergency rooms and critical care units, their frontline labour is often devalued.    [NAOMI LIGHTMAN] And they’re often what we refer to as the three “D”s. So, jobs that are dirty, difficult, and, especially during times of a health pandemic, highly dangerous. My name is Naomi Lightman and I’m an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Calgary. My research focuses on the intersection between gender, migration, race and care work.   [ARSHY] According to her research, it’s clear that these jobs, especially personal support workers who provide a big chunk of the day-to-day care, are occupied by specific kinds of people.    [LIGHTMAN] So this is overwhelmingly a female workforce and it’s very much racialized. When we talk just broadly about racialized women, it doesn’t actually capture it. It’s really specifically two groups that we’re talking about. We’re talking about black women and Filipino women who are, in the case of black women, over two times as likely as white women to be working in these jobs and with Filipino women over three times as likely.   [ARSHY] And the people working in these types of positions are also much more likely to be recent immigrants.    [LIGHTMAN] So, when we look at personal support workers or people working specifically in long term care institutions, these are, in fact, among the most precarious and the lowest wage workers, especially in private institutions.  When we compare them to just the average worker and we’re still controlling for factors like their education and their family structure… So holding these factors constant, we see that there is a 40 percent wage penalty for low-skill care work.   [ARSHY] Naomi Lightman says that this is because caring for people has historically been viewed as, quote-unquote, women’s work.    [LIGHTMAN] And I think as this kind of work has entered the paid labor force, we’ve continued to view it through a lens of work that doesn’t really matter or doesn’t hold the same value to other types of paid work. So, we rely on women who are coming from the Global South to do this work that we don’t want to do, and we continue to view it as labor that doesn’t hold the same value as other kinds of work.   [ARSHY] Lisa Burke is a personal support worker at peopleCare Oakcrossing, a long-term care facility in London, Ontario. Here’s what a typical day looks like for her.    [LISA BURKE] I work straight day-shifts. I work 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. When we get to our unit, we have to come a few minutes early to get a report. There’s usually three to four staff to 32 residents.  We get report. They tell us if there’s anybody who’s been hospitalized, any changes, any med changes, any behaviors, any falls, anything like that. We have two hours to get the 32 residents up, dressed, bathed, hairbrush, teeth in, and into the dining room to be fed for breakfast. Some of these residents are aggressive. Some of the residents are fairly independent. And we just have to help with small things, like picking out their clothes. Some people need total care where they have to be dressed, rolled, changed, use a mechanical lift.  If we have to use a mechanical lift  there has to be a minimum of two people to then get that person up and into their wheelchair. We’re supposed to chart at the same time as getting them ready, which is near impossible. And then we have an hour to feed them breakfast. Most times we don’t get into the dining room exactly when we’re supposed to. We’re usually late because there’s just so much care to be done and we don’t have enough people to do it. And then we have to feed them. We’re only supposed to feed two people at a time. So a lot of people have to wait to get their meal because we can only feed two people at a time. After breakfast, we would have to take them back to their rooms. If we can, get a break in. And then you would start toileting residents. Helping, taking them to activities, changing them. Some people lay down for a nap. Finish some baths. And then you would get people back up, toilet people, and then we’d go for lunch, and feed them lunch, the same thing. And then we have like an hour to get people out of the dining room and then back to the rooms, toilet them, change them, lay them down for a nap, if they need to have a nap, and try to chart and get everything done at the same time.   [ARSHY] Lisa Burke says that her home is always understaffed. And when they ask for more help, management tells them that they don’t have enough funding.    [BURKE] We don’t have enough staff at all to give any of the residents the type of care they need and deserve.   [ARSHY] Zaid Noorsumar is a labour reporter who’s been covering long-term care workers. And he says that, even as the care needs of long-term residents have been growing, staff aren’t getting more of the resources they need.   [ZAID NOORSUMAR] Residents coming into long-term care now have increasingly complex needs and they require a higher level of care, while, at the same time, the staffing ratios have not kept up. They haven’t been increased in accordance with the acuity of patients. So that’s a big factor, and what that means is that staff are constantly rushing. They’re running around. They don’t have the time to spend with residents.   [BURKE] People think that we get paid this giant amount of money and that we’re lazy because we’re complaining that we don’t have enough time or the manpower to do the work. I don’t think they know how physically, mentally, emotionally draining the job actually is.   [ARSHY] Joanna Bulatao agrees. She’s a registered practical nurse at Villa Leonardo Gambin, the same facility that Joedel Concepcion works at.    [JOANNA BULATAO] A lot of our staff, they’re constantly, like… Overwork themselves or, like, they really give their all when they’re providing, like, care to our residents. And it gets very, very tiring, like, especially during now. It does get exhausting. It’s not that we don’t want to provide care. It’s just that we become so drained because we want to help.   [ARSHY] And long-term care workers form close personal bonds with the people they take care of.   [NOORSUMAR] They think of residents as their family members, and they really feel they–they want to provide the best care that they can. In fact, one of the workers that I spoke with, who used to be in home care… I think now she works long-term care. She said, “Mentally, it’s a very draining job. You get attached to your client and then you get frustrated because you know the need for care but they aren’t getting it. Most of us PSWs are the type that, if the client’s having a bad day, it’s hard not to take that with you. And she said, after years and years of not being able to provide health care, she was burned out and she quit. She said, “I started my car and I started crying and I couldn’t stop.” And that’s the day she quit.   [ARSHY] All of the workers we spoke to said the same thing: the people they care for become like family to them.   [BURKE] Even when we have a person who becomes palliative or passes away, a part of us goes with them, too. Like, a lot of the time we’re in the room with them, or with the family. We’re crying with the family. Or even if they’re alone, we’re with them, holding them, as they take their last breath. Like, it’s… It’s like losing a part of your family.    [BULATAO] I think people don’t really realize that, like, when you’re with the same residents, they kind of become like a part of you. Like, they become, like, your–your family. That’s–that’s who we’re taking care of. We’re taking care of them just like we would our grandparents.   PART TWO [ARSHY] Joadel Concepcion, who you heard at the top of the show, came to Canada from the Philippines in 1995. She first worked as a nanny and then took some courses and became a registered nurse. Soon, she was working in long-term care. And, since 2004, she’s been working at Villa Leonardo Gambin, a long-term care home in Woodbridge, Ontario. The home was built for the nearby Italian community, so in order to be able to care for the residents, Jodel’s learned as much Italian as she could.   [CONCEPCION] So you have to encourage them and say… [speaking Italian]   [ARSHY] Villa Leonardo Gambin is technically a non-profit home, but it’s run by Sienna, one of the largest for-profit long-term care providers. The home would have pandemic preparedness training every year and Joadel was one of the people tasked with ensuring that people’s masks fit properly. By early March of this year, Joadel was getting more and more worried about COVID-19. She’d had family members who had gotten SARS, and she knew how scary things could get. And she says that, early on, it became clear that the staff weren’t going to get the proper personal protective equipment. By mid-March, the doctor who used to come do rounds refused to enter the building.     [CONCEPCION] They don’t do rounds in the building because they know that the administrator is not giving him PPE. Dr. Bujon will only do OTN with me using my cell phone to see his patients from the middle of March, or almost third week of March.   [ARSHY] By the weekend of March 27th, some of the residents on Joadel’s floor started coming down with COVID-19 symptoms, like fevers and coughs. And the staff started to ask management for masks.    [CONCEPCION] When are they giving us mass? This resident is coughing. We don’t have enough masks. We’re talking about surgical masks, okay? She says, “I gave you guys. If you finish it, that’s your problem.” That’s always her comment. Everybody knew that.    [ARSHY] And because Joadel is the union steward, staff started to come to her, saying that they were short on PPE. But Joadel says that when she took those concerns to management, they were just brushed off.   [CONCEPCION] What? Did I told you to talk to me? I told her to talk to me. Why she’s telling you? I said, no, she’s telling me now, because I’m the union steward. It’s my responsibility to follow up. So then she says, “Well, the public health say that you have to wear masks.”   [ARSHY] A spokesperson for Sienna denied that staff at Villa Leonardo Gambin were ever told not to wear PPE, especially when they were supporting residents displaying respiratory flu-like symptoms. Over the next few days, a number of residents started to experience upper respiratory issues, a telltale COVID-19 symptom.    [CONCEPCION] And some staff, they put on their own from their home. They would get mad at you.   [ARSHY] Joadel says that the message from management was clear. Because Public Health Ontario had yet to mandate it, no one had to wear a mask. And so they weren’t going to be provided any. Joanna Bulatao says that it was very difficult for staff members to get PPE.   [BULATAO] I don’t think that they were prepared for that to spread to other floors, because when it did, it didn’t really feel, like, that we had as much supplies and they felt like we were, like, pulling teeth to get, like, the supplies because we were running low in the home.   [ARSHY] The staff continued to work in close proximity to each other and to provide bedside care. And all the while, residents were moving around the facility.    [CONCEPCION] They’re in the rooms, but they come out. They’re wandering. What are you going to do, tie them on their beds? You’re going to lose your job.   [ARSHY] On March 28, Joadel says that managers asked her to test a number of residents for COVID-19, even though it wasn’t her job. She wasn’t given the proper PPE, but she did it anyways. The next day, another nurse came down with a fever. And within a week, Joadel came down with one, too. That same day, she heard that one of the residents she had tested was now positive.  Within another week, Joadel Concepcion was in the emergency room at Scarborough Grace Hospital, convinced that she was going to die.    [CONCEPCION] I have a lot of diarrhea, vomiting, and so my potassium is low. My heart arrhythmia acted up. I developed congestive heart failure. I had COVID-19 pneumonia.   [ARSHY] Joadel prayed to God that she would survive and be able to spend time with her family.    [CONCEPCION] I’m not a perfect human being. Just give me another chance to live. I still want to see my son get married and have grandkids. And, you know, um, He has to give me another chance to live again. But you know, Arshy, I was… I was just praying. And I just prayed and I said, “God…” And you’re making me cry. [indistinct] It’s so sad.   [ARSHY] But during that time, she couldn’t help but feel betrayed. She had thought that her managers were her friends, that they looked out for her.   [CONCEPCION] I work… I worked with these managers for many years. And I… I… I’m not nobody to them. And then they… Just to give me the N95. They says there’s no supply.   [ARSHY] While she was sitting in that hospital bed recovering, Joedel was amazed by what she saw around her. The protocols, the protections in the hospital were nothing like  in long-term care.    [CONCEPCION] When I was in Scarborough Grace, they disinfect. They come to my room three times, the full shift, the whole day, to take the garbage. Do proper disinfection. They’re wearing double masks, one N95 and the surgical mask under facial, and double gowns, and three pairs of gloves. In long term care, you share everything. They don’t do proper disinfection from the beginning before the COVID. How about now?   [ARSHY] At least twelve residents of Villa Leonardo Gambin have died of COVID-19. And, according to Joadel, 31 employees, including herself, have been infected with the coronavirus. She says that the last staff member who got sick was on May 17the, a month and a half after the outbreak began.  We reached out to Sienna for comment about all of this, and, in an emailed statement, they said that throughout the pandemic, their highest priority has been to ensure the safety of their team members and residents. They say that they ensured ample supplies of PPE were available, including N95 masks, and that charge nurses have access to the residence’s storage room to ensure that team members can acquire new PPE at all times. According to Sienna, team members were encouraged to wear PPE provided by the home, instead of their own, to ensure it met the appropriate standard, and they thanked their team members for their heroic work and their ongoing dedication throughout this pandemic.   OUTRO [ARSHY] As the COVID-19 outbreak was sweeping through the long-term care facility where she worked, Joanna Bulatao was scared.   [BULATAO] It was horrible. <laughs> I mean, it’s like a whole internal battle with yourself because it’s like you want to go into work, you want to help yourself. You want to help your residents. Like, you want to be there and–and do your job. Like, you want to actually help them. But obviously, at the back of your mind, you’re always thinking, like, “Oh, my God, what if I get sick? Like, what if I bring this home to my family? What if I…” You know, “What if I… What if I’m a carrier?”   [ARSHY] And like so many of her colleagues, she became infected and had to stop coming into work.   [BULATAO] As a nurse, I want to be helping. I want to be there. I want to give as much as I can during, like, these difficult times. And knowing that I can’t, and knowing that as I want to, I can’t do anything about it. It’s really frustrating. And it really takes a toll on, like, mental health. And it’s just the worst feeling ever.   [ARSHY] But what got to her the most was that so many of the people she was charged with caring for are now dead. She was stationed on the floor that lost the most residents.     [BULATAO] It was honestly the hardest thing. When I found out that, like, residents were starting to pass on a unit, it was… Either I was breaking down on–on the phone when someone was telling me or I was trying to, like, hold it together. And, it’s just because you build that relationship with them. You remember all of the memories that you have with them. And then to just think that, like, “Oh, well, that’s all you have now, are just memories.” It’s… It’s very hard. Very hard.   [ARSHY] Lisa Burke was lucky enough to not become infected with the coronavirus. But she is frustrated by the state of long-term care. And she thinks enough is enough.    [BURKE] We’ve been… Us, like, in the union, have been yelling, like, “We need more help, we need more staff, we need more of this.” Like, you guys need to come in and regulate more things. And I just think it’s–it’s very, very sad that a pandemic has to show the world what we’ve been shouting for many, many years now.  We are the backbone of the healthcare system, and a lot of people just don’t see the hard work and the dedication of long-term care employees.   END CREDITS [ARSHY] That’s your episode of Commons for the week. If you want to support us, click on the link in your show notes or go to commonspodcast.com This episode relied on work done by Naomi Lightman, Zaid Noorsumar, Tamara Daly, Pat Armstrong and Nora Loreto. If you want to get in touch with us, you can tweet at us at @COMMONSpod. You can also email me, Arshy@canadalandshow.com This episode was produced by me and Jordan Cornish, with additional production by Tiffany Lam. Our managing editor is Andréa Schmidt. And our music is by Nathan Burley.  If you like what we do, please help us make this show. Click on the link in your shownotes or go to commonspodcast.com   I think you should be getting our newsletterGet a weekly note about our top stories.This is a good thing that we do. You'll like this.johnsmith@example.comSign UpForm is being submitted, please wait a bit.Please fill out all required fields.
March 21, 2016
45
Police in Canada Get Away with Killing Black People
“It’s just the mindsets of the entire police force in which they don’t see us as human and if a life is lost of ours, they just don’t care."
March 30, 2016
46
Tom Mulcair: Hot Prosecutor or Wet Napkin?
Tom Mulcair's leadership review, corrupt Quebec politics and a ton of free advice on how the government can become more open.
April 4, 2016
47
Should This Old Indian Guy Lead the Conservatives?
Conservatives jump into the leadership race, Desmond has questions about a Liberal Party flip flop on torture and economist Lindsay Tedds tells us why the Panama Papers matter.
April 11, 2016
48
Parliament Needs More Women’s Bathrooms
NOT SORRY writer Vicky Mochama talks to young women on Parliament Hill about the barriers they face and the work they do.
April 19, 2016
49
Can a Conservative Be a Feminist?
Should a politician's voting record prevent her from speaking up about sexism? Why protestors were living inside the offices of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada across the country. And Mike Duffy's acquitted. Jane Lytvenenko joins Supriya Dwivedi.
April 25, 2016
50
Debating Same-Sex Marriage and Other Ways to Stay Irrelevant
The Conservative Party is getting ready to debate same-sex marriage more than a decade after it became law. BC's Premier is getting rich off party funds. An economist on why Newfounland and Labrador are shutting down more than half their libraries. Desmond says goodbye.
May 2, 2016
51
How to Make Poor People Disappear (Census Edition)
Sex and the census, how the last government made poor people disappear and bailing out Bombardier.
May 11, 2016
52
Are Libertarians Conservatives?
Libertarian Matt Bufton does not want to be lumped in with Conservatives; a story of a Brenna Kannick's death in remand; the NDP proposed a bill to create gender equity (nearly) on the ballot.
May 16, 2016
Celebrating Defeat: Dispatches from the Conservative Convention
The Syrup Trap's Winnie Code checks out the Conservative Convention, where she talks to a crude button maker and interim leader Rona Ambrose.
June 1, 2016
This Is Not Canada: Living as a Migrant Farm Worker
A farm worker wants better conditions for foreign labourers, and is Trudeau bending gender norms in politics?
June 6, 2016
Cheri DiNovo on How to Fix the NDP
MPP Cheri DiNovo on why she couldn't sit back and watch the NDP make any more mistakes.
June 14, 2016
Naming a Genocide
The government declared that ISIS is committing a genocide against Yazidis. Vicky and Supriya look into what that means for Canada's obligations.
June 21, 2016
57
Buy Gold and Raisin Bran: The Brexit and Canada
Supriya and Vicky want to know what the Brexit means for us. Does a vote for the United Kingdom to leave the EU change our lives on this side of the ocean?
July 5, 2016
58
When CSIS Comes Knocking
Vicky and Supriya talk to human rights activist Monia Mazigh about CSIS's unannounced visits to Muslim men's homes and workplaces.
July 12, 2016
Canadian Police Are Racist Too
There’s been a lot of attention on police violence against Black people in the U.S. How different is Canada's policing system?
July 26, 2016
MMIW: What Justice Means for a Family Member
We talk to Maggie Cywink about the upcoming inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women. Her sister Sonya Cywink was murdered over 20 years ago and the case remains unsolved.
August 9, 2016
When CSIS Comes Knocking pt. 2
Earlier this summer, we heard about CSIS agents making unannounced visits to Muslims. Now, one of those men joins us.
August 23, 2016
62
When Your Councillor Spams You On Facebook
A listener thinks a city councillor is using his platform to make money. The councillor gets philosophical. We get to the bottom of it.
September 6, 2016
Conservative Leadership Showdown Part 1: Michael Chong & Brad Trost
Over the summer, Vicky and Supriya set out to interview all of the candidates for the leader of Conservative Party. Here are their interviews with Michael Chong and Brad Trost.
September 13, 2016
64
Conservative Leadership Showdown Part 2: Tony Clement & Maxime Bernier
Our quest to get to know all the Conservative leadership contenders continues with Tony Clement and Maxime Bernier.
September 20, 2016
65
Drunk On Liberal Power / Kellie Leitch On Anti-Canadian Values
Conservative leadership contender Kellie Leitch calls Trudeau a "Canadian identity denier" and defends her idea of screening immigrants for their values. Plus, a look at the year ahead in Parliament.
September 27, 2016
A Hat Trick Of Deceit: First Nations And The LNG Project
On last week's show, Bloomberg's Josh Wingrove predicted energy projects would put an end to the Trudeau government's honeymoon. Now we have a test case.
October 4, 2016
67
A Hodge Podge Of Political Hacks: Inside The War Room
We go behind the scenes in Canadian politics with Lisa and Warren Kinsella, who share stories of Liberal war rooms and "dirty rotten lobbyists."
October 11, 2016
A Message About the Future of COMMONS
We have news.
October 18, 2016
COMMONS returns!
Support us at commonspodcast.com Long-term care workers are in the vanguard in the war against COVID-19. They’re not the kinds of workers who get movies or TV shows made about them. In fact, their stories are rarely told. But not only are they battling heroically against this pandemic. They’re fighting for recognition and respect within a system built to marginalize them.  COMMONS: Pandemic is currently focusing on how COVID-19 is affecting long-term care in Canada.   Featured in this episode: Joadel Concepcion, Joanna Bulatao, Lisa Burke, Naomi Lightman, Zaid Noorsumar To learn more: “‘We are dropping like flies,’ says Ontario home care nurse” by Zaid Noorsumar in Rank and File “Fear and exhaustion: Working as a PSW in long-term care during the coronavirus” by Alanna Mitchell in Maclean’s “Comparing Care Regimes: Worker Characteristics and Wage Penalties in the Global Care Chain” by Naomi Lightman in Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State & Society   This episode is sponsored by Freshbooks Additional music from Audio Network   TRANSCRIPT:    EPISODE 7 – “THE FRONTLINE”   COLD OPEN [ARSHY MANN] Joadel Concepcion’s been working as a registered nurse in long-term care for almost two decades. And she remembers the last time things seemed this frightening. It was 2003. That was when a different coronavirus was sweeping the world, causing Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or “SARS” for short.    [JOADEL CONCEPCION] During SARS time there is a lot of nurses <indistinct> got sick. Even my sister-in-law, she got sick. We have that fear. Why am I going to have this stress again? We don’t know.   [ARSHY] So when she started feeling feverish in early April, Joadel went out to get tested right away.   [CONCEPCION] My first symptoms started on a Saturday, which is April four. I went right away to Scarborough Grace to get tested. And then when I came back home, I had a little bit of OCD for even from SRS time. So when–when I came home, I took a shower because I thought the fever will just subside.   [ARSHY] But the fever didn’t subside. Instead, the symptoms started to get more intense.   [CONCEPCION] I was coughing. I was vomiting. When my husband give me the food, like… I don’t have an appetite. I don’t smell it and I don’t taste it.   [ARSHY] For a few days, Joadel stayed at home, trying to get rest and stay hydrated. But by April 8, she was having trouble breathing.    [CONCEPCION] My airway’s blocked. I can’t breathe. You want to like raise your chest or trying to catch the air, but you can’t. That’s how I feel.   [ARSHY] She asked her son to drive her to Scarborough Grace Hospital. And when they got to the emergency room, a man was outside screening people and asking them questions.   [CONCEPCION] He was saying, “I have to screen you.” I said, “No, don’t screen me.” And I feel like I’m going to die. I can’t breathe.   [ARSHY] The man tried to determine whether she should come wait in the emergency room.   [CONCEPCION] And I can tell my son and my husband are crying. Yelling at them, “Don’t come near me. Don’t come near me.” So I said to one of the staff, I said, “I’m gonna pass out. Please help me. I have COVID. I’m an RN and I work in long-term care.” That’s all I said. And then they took me right away   [ARSHY] They put her on oxygen. But then they realized she was developing congestive heart failure. So they gave her injections, antibiotics, anti-clotting agents… Luckily, Joadel had gotten there in time. She didn’t die. She’s now out of the hospital and fully recovered.  But a lot of people haven’t been so lucky. Since the beginning of the pandemic, thousands of long-term care workers have come down with COVID-19. And 16 of them have died. I’m Arshy Mann, and from CANADALAND, this is Commons.   PART ONE [ARSHY] In stories about long-term care, the workers are often left out of the picture. It’s the nurses, the personal support workers and so many others in these facilities that really have been on the front-line of this pandemic. But they’re work isn’t viewed as sexy or captivating. After all, people don’t make TV shows or movies about long-term care, like they do with hospitals.  And compared to their counterparts in emergency rooms and critical care units, their frontline labour is often devalued.    [NAOMI LIGHTMAN] And they’re often what we refer to as the three “D”s. So, jobs that are dirty, difficult, and, especially during times of a health pandemic, highly dangerous. My name is Naomi Lightman and I’m an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Calgary. My research focuses on the intersection between gender, migration, race and care work.   [ARSHY] According to her research, it’s clear that these jobs, especially personal support workers who provide a big chunk of the day-to-day care, are occupied by specific kinds of people.    [LIGHTMAN] So this is overwhelmingly a female workforce and it’s very much racialized. When we talk just broadly about racialized women, it doesn’t actually capture it. It’s really specifically two groups that we’re talking about. We’re talking about black women and Filipino women who are, in the case of black women, over two times as likely as white women to be working in these jobs and with Filipino women over three times as likely.   [ARSHY] And the people working in these types of positions are also much more likely to be recent immigrants.    [LIGHTMAN] So, when we look at personal support workers or people working specifically in long term care institutions, these are, in fact, among the most precarious and the lowest wage workers, especially in private institutions.  When we compare them to just the average worker and we’re still controlling for factors like their education and their family structure… So holding these factors constant, we see that there is a 40 percent wage penalty for low-skill care work.   [ARSHY] Naomi Lightman says that this is because caring for people has historically been viewed as, quote-unquote, women’s work.    [LIGHTMAN] And I think as this kind of work has entered the paid labor force, we’ve continued to view it through a lens of work that doesn’t really matter or doesn’t hold the same value to other types of paid work. So, we rely on women who are coming from the Global South to do this work that we don’t want to do, and we continue to view it as labor that doesn’t hold the same value as other kinds of work.   [ARSHY] Lisa Burke is a personal support worker at peopleCare Oakcrossing, a long-term care facility in London, Ontario. Here’s what a typical day looks like for her.    [LISA BURKE] I work straight day-shifts. I work 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. When we get to our unit, we have to come a few minutes early to get a report. There’s usually three to four staff to 32 residents.  We get report. They tell us if there’s anybody who’s been hospitalized, any changes, any med changes, any behaviors, any falls, anything like that. We have two hours to get the 32 residents up, dressed, bathed, hairbrush, teeth in, and into the dining room to be fed for breakfast. Some of these residents are aggressive. Some of the residents are fairly independent. And we just have to help with small things, like picking out their clothes. Some people need total care where they have to be dressed, rolled, changed, use a mechanical lift.  If we have to use a mechanical lift  there has to be a minimum of two people to then get that person up and into their wheelchair. We’re supposed to chart at the same time as getting them ready, which is near impossible. And then we have an hour to feed them breakfast. Most times we don’t get into the dining room exactly when we’re supposed to. We’re usually late because there’s just so much care to be done and we don’t have enough people to do it. And then we have to feed them. We’re only supposed to feed two people at a time. So a lot of people have to wait to get their meal because we can only feed two people at a time. After breakfast, we would have to take them back to their rooms. If we can, get a break in. And then you would start toileting residents. Helping, taking them to activities, changing them. Some people lay down for a nap. Finish some baths. And then you would get people back up, toilet people, and then we’d go for lunch, and feed them lunch, the same thing. And then we have like an hour to get people out of the dining room and then back to the rooms, toilet them, change them, lay them down for a nap, if they need to have a nap, and try to chart and get everything done at the same time.   [ARSHY] Lisa Burke says that her home is always understaffed. And when they ask for more help, management tells them that they don’t have enough funding.    [BURKE] We don’t have enough staff at all to give any of the residents the type of care they need and deserve.   [ARSHY] Zaid Noorsumar is a labour reporter who’s been covering long-term care workers. And he says that, even as the care needs of long-term residents have been growing, staff aren’t getting more of the resources they need.   [ZAID NOORSUMAR] Residents coming into long-term care now have increasingly complex needs and they require a higher level of care, while, at the same time, the staffing ratios have not kept up. They haven’t been increased in accordance with the acuity of patients. So that’s a big factor, and what that means is that staff are constantly rushing. They’re running around. They don’t have the time to spend with residents.   [BURKE] People think that we get paid this giant amount of money and that we’re lazy because we’re complaining that we don’t have enough time or the manpower to do the work. I don’t think they know how physically, mentally, emotionally draining the job actually is.   [ARSHY] Joanna Bulatao agrees. She’s a registered practical nurse at Villa Leonardo Gambin, the same facility that Joedel Concepcion works at.    [JOANNA BULATAO] A lot of our staff, they’re constantly, like… Overwork themselves or, like, they really give their all when they’re providing, like, care to our residents. And it gets very, very tiring, like, especially during now. It does get exhausting. It’s not that we don’t want to provide care. It’s just that we become so drained because we want to help.   [ARSHY] And long-term care workers form close personal bonds with the people they take care of.   [NOORSUMAR] They think of residents as their family members, and they really feel they–they want to provide the best care that they can. In fact, one of the workers that I spoke with, who used to be in home care… I think now she works long-term care. She said, “Mentally, it’s a very draining job. You get attached to your client and then you get frustrated because you know the need for care but they aren’t getting it. Most of us PSWs are the type that, if the client’s having a bad day, it’s hard not to take that with you. And she said, after years and years of not being able to provide health care, she was burned out and she quit. She said, “I started my car and I started crying and I couldn’t stop.” And that’s the day she quit.   [ARSHY] All of the workers we spoke to said the same thing: the people they care for become like family to them.   [BURKE] Even when we have a person who becomes palliative or passes away, a part of us goes with them, too. Like, a lot of the time we’re in the room with them, or with the family. We’re crying with the family. Or even if they’re alone, we’re with them, holding them, as they take their last breath. Like, it’s… It’s like losing a part of your family.    [BULATAO] I think people don’t really realize that, like, when you’re with the same residents, they kind of become like a part of you. Like, they become, like, your–your family. That’s–that’s who we’re taking care of. We’re taking care of them just like we would our grandparents.   PART TWO [ARSHY] Joadel Concepcion, who you heard at the top of the show, came to Canada from the Philippines in 1995. She first worked as a nanny and then took some courses and became a registered nurse. Soon, she was working in long-term care. And, since 2004, she’s been working at Villa Leonardo Gambin, a long-term care home in Woodbridge, Ontario. The home was built for the nearby Italian community, so in order to be able to care for the residents, Jodel’s learned as much Italian as she could.   [CONCEPCION] So you have to encourage them and say… [speaking Italian]   [ARSHY] Villa Leonardo Gambin is technically a non-profit home, but it’s run by Sienna, one of the largest for-profit long-term care providers. The home would have pandemic preparedness training every year and Joadel was one of the people tasked with ensuring that people’s masks fit properly. By early March of this year, Joadel was getting more and more worried about COVID-19. She’d had family members who had gotten SARS, and she knew how scary things could get. And she says that, early on, it became clear that the staff weren’t going to get the proper personal protective equipment. By mid-March, the doctor who used to come do rounds refused to enter the building.     [CONCEPCION] They don’t do rounds in the building because they know that the administrator is not giving him PPE. Dr. Bujon will only do OTN with me using my cell phone to see his patients from the middle of March, or almost third week of March.   [ARSHY] By the weekend of March 27th, some of the residents on Joadel’s floor started coming down with COVID-19 symptoms, like fevers and coughs. And the staff started to ask management for masks.    [CONCEPCION] When are they giving us mass? This resident is coughing. We don’t have enough masks. We’re talking about surgical masks, okay? She says, “I gave you guys. If you finish it, that’s your problem.” That’s always her comment. Everybody knew that.    [ARSHY] And because Joadel is the union steward, staff started to come to her, saying that they were short on PPE. But Joadel says that when she took those concerns to management, they were just brushed off.   [CONCEPCION] What? Did I told you to talk to me? I told her to talk to me. Why she’s telling you? I said, no, she’s telling me now, because I’m the union steward. It’s my responsibility to follow up. So then she says, “Well, the public health say that you have to wear masks.”   [ARSHY] A spokesperson for Sienna denied that staff at Villa Leonardo Gambin were ever told not to wear PPE, especially when they were supporting residents displaying respiratory flu-like symptoms. Over the next few days, a number of residents started to experience upper respiratory issues, a telltale COVID-19 symptom.    [CONCEPCION] And some staff, they put on their own from their home. They would get mad at you.   [ARSHY] Joadel says that the message from management was clear. Because Public Health Ontario had yet to mandate it, no one had to wear a mask. And so they weren’t going to be provided any. Joanna Bulatao says that it was very difficult for staff members to get PPE.   [BULATAO] I don’t think that they were prepared for that to spread to other floors, because when it did, it didn’t really feel, like, that we had as much supplies and they felt like we were, like, pulling teeth to get, like, the supplies because we were running low in the home.   [ARSHY] The staff continued to work in close proximity to each other and to provide bedside care. And all the while, residents were moving around the facility.    [CONCEPCION] They’re in the rooms, but they come out. They’re wandering. What are you going to do, tie them on their beds? You’re going to lose your job.   [ARSHY] On March 28, Joadel says that managers asked her to test a number of residents for COVID-19, even though it wasn’t her job. She wasn’t given the proper PPE, but she did it anyways. The next day, another nurse came down with a fever. And within a week, Joadel came down with one, too. That same day, she heard that one of the residents she had tested was now positive.  Within another week, Joadel Concepcion was in the emergency room at Scarborough Grace Hospital, convinced that she was going to die.    [CONCEPCION] I have a lot of diarrhea, vomiting, and so my potassium is low. My heart arrhythmia acted up. I developed congestive heart failure. I had COVID-19 pneumonia.   [ARSHY] Joadel prayed to God that she would survive and be able to spend time with her family.    [CONCEPCION] I’m not a perfect human being. Just give me another chance to live. I still want to see my son get married and have grandkids. And, you know, um, He has to give me another chance to live again. But you know, Arshy, I was… I was just praying. And I just prayed and I said, “God…” And you’re making me cry. [indistinct] It’s so sad.   [ARSHY] But during that time, she couldn’t help but feel betrayed. She had thought that her managers were her friends, that they looked out for her.   [CONCEPCION] I work… I worked with these managers for many years. And I… I… I’m not nobody to them. And then they… Just to give me the N95. They says there’s no supply.   [ARSHY] While she was sitting in that hospital bed recovering, Joedel was amazed by what she saw around her. The protocols, the protections in the hospital were nothing like  in long-term care.    [CONCEPCION] When I was in Scarborough Grace, they disinfect. They come to my room three times, the full shift, the whole day, to take the garbage. Do proper disinfection. They’re wearing double masks, one N95 and the surgical mask under facial, and double gowns, and three pairs of gloves. In long term care, you share everything. They don’t do proper disinfection from the beginning before the COVID. How about now?   [ARSHY] At least twelve residents of Villa Leonardo Gambin have died of COVID-19. And, according to Joadel, 31 employees, including herself, have been infected with the coronavirus. She says that the last staff member who got sick was on May 17the, a month and a half after the outbreak began.  We reached out to Sienna for comment about all of this, and, in an emailed statement, they said that throughout the pandemic, their highest priority has been to ensure the safety of their team members and residents. They say that they ensured ample supplies of PPE were available, including N95 masks, and that charge nurses have access to the residence’s storage room to ensure that team members can acquire new PPE at all times. According to Sienna, team members were encouraged to wear PPE provided by the home, instead of their own, to ensure it met the appropriate standard, and they thanked their team members for their heroic work and their ongoing dedication throughout this pandemic.   OUTRO [ARSHY] As the COVID-19 outbreak was sweeping through the long-term care facility where she worked, Joanna Bulatao was scared.   [BULATAO] It was horrible. <laughs> I mean, it’s like a whole internal battle with yourself because it’s like you want to go into work, you want to help yourself. You want to help your residents. Like, you want to be there and–and do your job. Like, you want to actually help them. But obviously, at the back of your mind, you’re always thinking, like, “Oh, my God, what if I get sick? Like, what if I bring this home to my family? What if I…” You know, “What if I… What if I’m a carrier?”   [ARSHY] And like so many of her colleagues, she became infected and had to stop coming into work.   [BULATAO] As a nurse, I want to be helping. I want to be there. I want to give as much as I can during, like, these difficult times. And knowing that I can’t, and knowing that as I want to, I can’t do anything about it. It’s really frustrating. And it really takes a toll on, like, mental health. And it’s just the worst feeling ever.   [ARSHY] But what got to her the most was that so many of the people she was charged with caring for are now dead. She was stationed on the floor that lost the most residents.     [BULATAO] It was honestly the hardest thing. When I found out that, like, residents were starting to pass on a unit, it was… Either I was breaking down on–on the phone when someone was telling me or I was trying to, like, hold it together. And, it’s just because you build that relationship with them. You remember all of the memories that you have with them. And then to just think that, like, “Oh, well, that’s all you have now, are just memories.” It’s… It’s very hard. Very hard.   [ARSHY] Lisa Burke was lucky enough to not become infected with the coronavirus. But she is frustrated by the state of long-term care. And she thinks enough is enough.    [BURKE] We’ve been… Us, like, in the union, have been yelling, like, “We need more help, we need more staff, we need more of this.” Like, you guys need to come in and regulate more things. And I just think it’s–it’s very, very sad that a pandemic has to show the world what we’ve been shouting for many, many years now.  We are the backbone of the healthcare system, and a lot of people just don’t see the hard work and the dedication of long-term care employees.   END CREDITS [ARSHY] That’s your episode of Commons for the week. If you want to support us, click on the link in your show notes or go to commonspodcast.com This episode relied on work done by Naomi Lightman, Zaid Noorsumar, Tamara Daly, Pat Armstrong and Nora Loreto. If you want to get in touch with us, you can tweet at us at @COMMONSpod. You can also email me, Arshy@canadalandshow.com This episode was produced by me and Jordan Cornish, with additional production by Tiffany Lam. Our managing editor is Andréa Schmidt. And our music is by Nathan Burley.  If you like what we do, please help us make this show. Click on the link in your shownotes or go to commonspodcast.com   I think you should be getting our newsletterGet a weekly note about our top stories.This is a good thing that we do. You'll like this.johnsmith@example.comSign UpForm is being submitted, please wait a bit.Please fill out all required fields.
February 13, 2017
68
Strong Hearts To The Front
Support us at commonspodcast.com Long-term care workers are in the vanguard in the war against COVID-19. They’re not the kinds of workers who get movies or TV shows made about them. In fact, their stories are rarely told. But not only are they battling heroically against this pandemic. They’re fighting for recognition and respect within a system built to marginalize them.  COMMONS: Pandemic is currently focusing on how COVID-19 is affecting long-term care in Canada.   Featured in this episode: Joadel Concepcion, Joanna Bulatao, Lisa Burke, Naomi Lightman, Zaid Noorsumar To learn more: “‘We are dropping like flies,’ says Ontario home care nurse” by Zaid Noorsumar in Rank and File “Fear and exhaustion: Working as a PSW in long-term care during the coronavirus” by Alanna Mitchell in Maclean’s “Comparing Care Regimes: Worker Characteristics and Wage Penalties in the Global Care Chain” by Naomi Lightman in Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State & Society   This episode is sponsored by Freshbooks Additional music from Audio Network   TRANSCRIPT:    EPISODE 7 – “THE FRONTLINE”   COLD OPEN [ARSHY MANN] Joadel Concepcion’s been working as a registered nurse in long-term care for almost two decades. And she remembers the last time things seemed this frightening. It was 2003. That was when a different coronavirus was sweeping the world, causing Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or “SARS” for short.    [JOADEL CONCEPCION] During SARS time there is a lot of nurses <indistinct> got sick. Even my sister-in-law, she got sick. We have that fear. Why am I going to have this stress again? We don’t know.   [ARSHY] So when she started feeling feverish in early April, Joadel went out to get tested right away.   [CONCEPCION] My first symptoms started on a Saturday, which is April four. I went right away to Scarborough Grace to get tested. And then when I came back home, I had a little bit of OCD for even from SRS time. So when–when I came home, I took a shower because I thought the fever will just subside.   [ARSHY] But the fever didn’t subside. Instead, the symptoms started to get more intense.   [CONCEPCION] I was coughing. I was vomiting. When my husband give me the food, like… I don’t have an appetite. I don’t smell it and I don’t taste it.   [ARSHY] For a few days, Joadel stayed at home, trying to get rest and stay hydrated. But by April 8, she was having trouble breathing.    [CONCEPCION] My airway’s blocked. I can’t breathe. You want to like raise your chest or trying to catch the air, but you can’t. That’s how I feel.   [ARSHY] She asked her son to drive her to Scarborough Grace Hospital. And when they got to the emergency room, a man was outside screening people and asking them questions.   [CONCEPCION] He was saying, “I have to screen you.” I said, “No, don’t screen me.” And I feel like I’m going to die. I can’t breathe.   [ARSHY] The man tried to determine whether she should come wait in the emergency room.   [CONCEPCION] And I can tell my son and my husband are crying. Yelling at them, “Don’t come near me. Don’t come near me.” So I said to one of the staff, I said, “I’m gonna pass out. Please help me. I have COVID. I’m an RN and I work in long-term care.” That’s all I said. And then they took me right away   [ARSHY] They put her on oxygen. But then they realized she was developing congestive heart failure. So they gave her injections, antibiotics, anti-clotting agents… Luckily, Joadel had gotten there in time. She didn’t die. She’s now out of the hospital and fully recovered.  But a lot of people haven’t been so lucky. Since the beginning of the pandemic, thousands of long-term care workers have come down with COVID-19. And 16 of them have died. I’m Arshy Mann, and from CANADALAND, this is Commons.   PART ONE [ARSHY] In stories about long-term care, the workers are often left out of the picture. It’s the nurses, the personal support workers and so many others in these facilities that really have been on the front-line of this pandemic. But they’re work isn’t viewed as sexy or captivating. After all, people don’t make TV shows or movies about long-term care, like they do with hospitals.  And compared to their counterparts in emergency rooms and critical care units, their frontline labour is often devalued.    [NAOMI LIGHTMAN] And they’re often what we refer to as the three “D”s. So, jobs that are dirty, difficult, and, especially during times of a health pandemic, highly dangerous. My name is Naomi Lightman and I’m an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Calgary. My research focuses on the intersection between gender, migration, race and care work.   [ARSHY] According to her research, it’s clear that these jobs, especially personal support workers who provide a big chunk of the day-to-day care, are occupied by specific kinds of people.    [LIGHTMAN] So this is overwhelmingly a female workforce and it’s very much racialized. When we talk just broadly about racialized women, it doesn’t actually capture it. It’s really specifically two groups that we’re talking about. We’re talking about black women and Filipino women who are, in the case of black women, over two times as likely as white women to be working in these jobs and with Filipino women over three times as likely.   [ARSHY] And the people working in these types of positions are also much more likely to be recent immigrants.    [LIGHTMAN] So, when we look at personal support workers or people working specifically in long term care institutions, these are, in fact, among the most precarious and the lowest wage workers, especially in private institutions.  When we compare them to just the average worker and we’re still controlling for factors like their education and their family structure… So holding these factors constant, we see that there is a 40 percent wage penalty for low-skill care work.   [ARSHY] Naomi Lightman says that this is because caring for people has historically been viewed as, quote-unquote, women’s work.    [LIGHTMAN] And I think as this kind of work has entered the paid labor force, we’ve continued to view it through a lens of work that doesn’t really matter or doesn’t hold the same value to other types of paid work. So, we rely on women who are coming from the Global South to do this work that we don’t want to do, and we continue to view it as labor that doesn’t hold the same value as other kinds of work.   [ARSHY] Lisa Burke is a personal support worker at peopleCare Oakcrossing, a long-term care facility in London, Ontario. Here’s what a typical day looks like for her.    [LISA BURKE] I work straight day-shifts. I work 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. When we get to our unit, we have to come a few minutes early to get a report. There’s usually three to four staff to 32 residents.  We get report. They tell us if there’s anybody who’s been hospitalized, any changes, any med changes, any behaviors, any falls, anything like that. We have two hours to get the 32 residents up, dressed, bathed, hairbrush, teeth in, and into the dining room to be fed for breakfast. Some of these residents are aggressive. Some of the residents are fairly independent. And we just have to help with small things, like picking out their clothes. Some people need total care where they have to be dressed, rolled, changed, use a mechanical lift.  If we have to use a mechanical lift  there has to be a minimum of two people to then get that person up and into their wheelchair. We’re supposed to chart at the same time as getting them ready, which is near impossible. And then we have an hour to feed them breakfast. Most times we don’t get into the dining room exactly when we’re supposed to. We’re usually late because there’s just so much care to be done and we don’t have enough people to do it. And then we have to feed them. We’re only supposed to feed two people at a time. So a lot of people have to wait to get their meal because we can only feed two people at a time. After breakfast, we would have to take them back to their rooms. If we can, get a break in. And then you would start toileting residents. Helping, taking them to activities, changing them. Some people lay down for a nap. Finish some baths. And then you would get people back up, toilet people, and then we’d go for lunch, and feed them lunch, the same thing. And then we have like an hour to get people out of the dining room and then back to the rooms, toilet them, change them, lay them down for a nap, if they need to have a nap, and try to chart and get everything done at the same time.   [ARSHY] Lisa Burke says that her home is always understaffed. And when they ask for more help, management tells them that they don’t have enough funding.    [BURKE] We don’t have enough staff at all to give any of the residents the type of care they need and deserve.   [ARSHY] Zaid Noorsumar is a labour reporter who’s been covering long-term care workers. And he says that, even as the care needs of long-term residents have been growing, staff aren’t getting more of the resources they need.   [ZAID NOORSUMAR] Residents coming into long-term care now have increasingly complex needs and they require a higher level of care, while, at the same time, the staffing ratios have not kept up. They haven’t been increased in accordance with the acuity of patients. So that’s a big factor, and what that means is that staff are constantly rushing. They’re running around. They don’t have the time to spend with residents.   [BURKE] People think that we get paid this giant amount of money and that we’re lazy because we’re complaining that we don’t have enough time or the manpower to do the work. I don’t think they know how physically, mentally, emotionally draining the job actually is.   [ARSHY] Joanna Bulatao agrees. She’s a registered practical nurse at Villa Leonardo Gambin, the same facility that Joedel Concepcion works at.    [JOANNA BULATAO] A lot of our staff, they’re constantly, like… Overwork themselves or, like, they really give their all when they’re providing, like, care to our residents. And it gets very, very tiring, like, especially during now. It does get exhausting. It’s not that we don’t want to provide care. It’s just that we become so drained because we want to help.   [ARSHY] And long-term care workers form close personal bonds with the people they take care of.   [NOORSUMAR] They think of residents as their family members, and they really feel they–they want to provide the best care that they can. In fact, one of the workers that I spoke with, who used to be in home care… I think now she works long-term care. She said, “Mentally, it’s a very draining job. You get attached to your client and then you get frustrated because you know the need for care but they aren’t getting it. Most of us PSWs are the type that, if the client’s having a bad day, it’s hard not to take that with you. And she said, after years and years of not being able to provide health care, she was burned out and she quit. She said, “I started my car and I started crying and I couldn’t stop.” And that’s the day she quit.   [ARSHY] All of the workers we spoke to said the same thing: the people they care for become like family to them.   [BURKE] Even when we have a person who becomes palliative or passes away, a part of us goes with them, too. Like, a lot of the time we’re in the room with them, or with the family. We’re crying with the family. Or even if they’re alone, we’re with them, holding them, as they take their last breath. Like, it’s… It’s like losing a part of your family.    [BULATAO] I think people don’t really realize that, like, when you’re with the same residents, they kind of become like a part of you. Like, they become, like, your–your family. That’s–that’s who we’re taking care of. We’re taking care of them just like we would our grandparents.   PART TWO [ARSHY] Joadel Concepcion, who you heard at the top of the show, came to Canada from the Philippines in 1995. She first worked as a nanny and then took some courses and became a registered nurse. Soon, she was working in long-term care. And, since 2004, she’s been working at Villa Leonardo Gambin, a long-term care home in Woodbridge, Ontario. The home was built for the nearby Italian community, so in order to be able to care for the residents, Jodel’s learned as much Italian as she could.   [CONCEPCION] So you have to encourage them and say… [speaking Italian]   [ARSHY] Villa Leonardo Gambin is technically a non-profit home, but it’s run by Sienna, one of the largest for-profit long-term care providers. The home would have pandemic preparedness training every year and Joadel was one of the people tasked with ensuring that people’s masks fit properly. By early March of this year, Joadel was getting more and more worried about COVID-19. She’d had family members who had gotten SARS, and she knew how scary things could get. And she says that, early on, it became clear that the staff weren’t going to get the proper personal protective equipment. By mid-March, the doctor who used to come do rounds refused to enter the building.     [CONCEPCION] They don’t do rounds in the building because they know that the administrator is not giving him PPE. Dr. Bujon will only do OTN with me using my cell phone to see his patients from the middle of March, or almost third week of March.   [ARSHY] By the weekend of March 27th, some of the residents on Joadel’s floor started coming down with COVID-19 symptoms, like fevers and coughs. And the staff started to ask management for masks.    [CONCEPCION] When are they giving us mass? This resident is coughing. We don’t have enough masks. We’re talking about surgical masks, okay? She says, “I gave you guys. If you finish it, that’s your problem.” That’s always her comment. Everybody knew that.    [ARSHY] And because Joadel is the union steward, staff started to come to her, saying that they were short on PPE. But Joadel says that when she took those concerns to management, they were just brushed off.   [CONCEPCION] What? Did I told you to talk to me? I told her to talk to me. Why she’s telling you? I said, no, she’s telling me now, because I’m the union steward. It’s my responsibility to follow up. So then she says, “Well, the public health say that you have to wear masks.”   [ARSHY] A spokesperson for Sienna denied that staff at Villa Leonardo Gambin were ever told not to wear PPE, especially when they were supporting residents displaying respiratory flu-like symptoms. Over the next few days, a number of residents started to experience upper respiratory issues, a telltale COVID-19 symptom.    [CONCEPCION] And some staff, they put on their own from their home. They would get mad at you.   [ARSHY] Joadel says that the message from management was clear. Because Public Health Ontario had yet to mandate it, no one had to wear a mask. And so they weren’t going to be provided any. Joanna Bulatao says that it was very difficult for staff members to get PPE.   [BULATAO] I don’t think that they were prepared for that to spread to other floors, because when it did, it didn’t really feel, like, that we had as much supplies and they felt like we were, like, pulling teeth to get, like, the supplies because we were running low in the home.   [ARSHY] The staff continued to work in close proximity to each other and to provide bedside care. And all the while, residents were moving around the facility.    [CONCEPCION] They’re in the rooms, but they come out. They’re wandering. What are you going to do, tie them on their beds? You’re going to lose your job.   [ARSHY] On March 28, Joadel says that managers asked her to test a number of residents for COVID-19, even though it wasn’t her job. She wasn’t given the proper PPE, but she did it anyways. The next day, another nurse came down with a fever. And within a week, Joadel came down with one, too. That same day, she heard that one of the residents she had tested was now positive.  Within another week, Joadel Concepcion was in the emergency room at Scarborough Grace Hospital, convinced that she was going to die.    [CONCEPCION] I have a lot of diarrhea, vomiting, and so my potassium is low. My heart arrhythmia acted up. I developed congestive heart failure. I had COVID-19 pneumonia.   [ARSHY] Joadel prayed to God that she would survive and be able to spend time with her family.    [CONCEPCION] I’m not a perfect human being. Just give me another chance to live. I still want to see my son get married and have grandkids. And, you know, um, He has to give me another chance to live again. But you know, Arshy, I was… I was just praying. And I just prayed and I said, “God…” And you’re making me cry. [indistinct] It’s so sad.   [ARSHY] But during that time, she couldn’t help but feel betrayed. She had thought that her managers were her friends, that they looked out for her.   [CONCEPCION] I work… I worked with these managers for many years. And I… I… I’m not nobody to them. And then they… Just to give me the N95. They says there’s no supply.   [ARSHY] While she was sitting in that hospital bed recovering, Joedel was amazed by what she saw around her. The protocols, the protections in the hospital were nothing like  in long-term care.    [CONCEPCION] When I was in Scarborough Grace, they disinfect. They come to my room three times, the full shift, the whole day, to take the garbage. Do proper disinfection. They’re wearing double masks, one N95 and the surgical mask under facial, and double gowns, and three pairs of gloves. In long term care, you share everything. They don’t do proper disinfection from the beginning before the COVID. How about now?   [ARSHY] At least twelve residents of Villa Leonardo Gambin have died of COVID-19. And, according to Joadel, 31 employees, including herself, have been infected with the coronavirus. She says that the last staff member who got sick was on May 17the, a month and a half after the outbreak began.  We reached out to Sienna for comment about all of this, and, in an emailed statement, they said that throughout the pandemic, their highest priority has been to ensure the safety of their team members and residents. They say that they ensured ample supplies of PPE were available, including N95 masks, and that charge nurses have access to the residence’s storage room to ensure that team members can acquire new PPE at all times. According to Sienna, team members were encouraged to wear PPE provided by the home, instead of their own, to ensure it met the appropriate standard, and they thanked their team members for their heroic work and their ongoing dedication throughout this pandemic.   OUTRO [ARSHY] As the COVID-19 outbreak was sweeping through the long-term care facility where she worked, Joanna Bulatao was scared.   [BULATAO] It was horrible. <laughs> I mean, it’s like a whole internal battle with yourself because it’s like you want to go into work, you want to help yourself. You want to help your residents. Like, you want to be there and–and do your job. Like, you want to actually help them. But obviously, at the back of your mind, you’re always thinking, like, “Oh, my God, what if I get sick? Like, what if I bring this home to my family? What if I…” You know, “What if I… What if I’m a carrier?”   [ARSHY] And like so many of her colleagues, she became infected and had to stop coming into work.   [BULATAO] As a nurse, I want to be helping. I want to be there. I want to give as much as I can during, like, these difficult times. And knowing that I can’t, and knowing that as I want to, I can’t do anything about it. It’s really frustrating. And it really takes a toll on, like, mental health. And it’s just the worst feeling ever.   [ARSHY] But what got to her the most was that so many of the people she was charged with caring for are now dead. She was stationed on the floor that lost the most residents.     [BULATAO] It was honestly the hardest thing. When I found out that, like, residents were starting to pass on a unit, it was… Either I was breaking down on–on the phone when someone was telling me or I was trying to, like, hold it together. And, it’s just because you build that relationship with them. You remember all of the memories that you have with them. And then to just think that, like, “Oh, well, that’s all you have now, are just memories.” It’s… It’s very hard. Very hard.   [ARSHY] Lisa Burke was lucky enough to not become infected with the coronavirus. But she is frustrated by the state of long-term care. And she thinks enough is enough.    [BURKE] We’ve been… Us, like, in the union, have been yelling, like, “We need more help, we need more staff, we need more of this.” Like, you guys need to come in and regulate more things. And I just think it’s–it’s very, very sad that a pandemic has to show the world what we’ve been shouting for many, many years now.  We are the backbone of the healthcare system, and a lot of people just don’t see the hard work and the dedication of long-term care employees.   END CREDITS [ARSHY] That’s your episode of Commons for the week. If you want to support us, click on the link in your show notes or go to commonspodcast.com This episode relied on work done by Naomi Lightman, Zaid Noorsumar, Tamara Daly, Pat Armstrong and Nora Loreto. If you want to get in touch with us, you can tweet at us at @COMMONSpod. You can also email me, Arshy@canadalandshow.com This episode was produced by me and Jordan Cornish, with additional production by Tiffany Lam. Our managing editor is Andréa Schmidt. And our music is by Nathan Burley.  If you like what we do, please help us make this show. Click on the link in your shownotes or go to commonspodcast.com   I think you should be getting our newsletterGet a weekly note about our top stories.This is a good thing that we do. You'll like this.johnsmith@example.comSign UpForm is being submitted, please wait a bit.Please fill out all required fields.
February 21, 2017
69
“I’m Ashamed Of Myself For Being Afraid”
Support us at commonspodcast.com Long-term care workers are in the vanguard in the war against COVID-19. They’re not the kinds of workers who get movies or TV shows made about them. In fact, their stories are rarely told. But not only are they battling heroically against this pandemic. They’re fighting for recognition and respect within a system built to marginalize them.  COMMONS: Pandemic is currently focusing on how COVID-19 is affecting long-term care in Canada.   Featured in this episode: Joadel Concepcion, Joanna Bulatao, Lisa Burke, Naomi Lightman, Zaid Noorsumar To learn more: “‘We are dropping like flies,’ says Ontario home care nurse” by Zaid Noorsumar in Rank and File “Fear and exhaustion: Working as a PSW in long-term care during the coronavirus” by Alanna Mitchell in Maclean’s “Comparing Care Regimes: Worker Characteristics and Wage Penalties in the Global Care Chain” by Naomi Lightman in Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State & Society   This episode is sponsored by Freshbooks Additional music from Audio Network   TRANSCRIPT:    EPISODE 7 – “THE FRONTLINE”   COLD OPEN [ARSHY MANN] Joadel Concepcion’s been working as a registered nurse in long-term care for almost two decades. And she remembers the last time things seemed this frightening. It was 2003. That was when a different coronavirus was sweeping the world, causing Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or “SARS” for short.    [JOADEL CONCEPCION] During SARS time there is a lot of nurses <indistinct> got sick. Even my sister-in-law, she got sick. We have that fear. Why am I going to have this stress again? We don’t know.   [ARSHY] So when she started feeling feverish in early April, Joadel went out to get tested right away.   [CONCEPCION] My first symptoms started on a Saturday, which is April four. I went right away to Scarborough Grace to get tested. And then when I came back home, I had a little bit of OCD for even from SRS time. So when–when I came home, I took a shower because I thought the fever will just subside.   [ARSHY] But the fever didn’t subside. Instead, the symptoms started to get more intense.   [CONCEPCION] I was coughing. I was vomiting. When my husband give me the food, like… I don’t have an appetite. I don’t smell it and I don’t taste it.   [ARSHY] For a few days, Joadel stayed at home, trying to get rest and stay hydrated. But by April 8, she was having trouble breathing.    [CONCEPCION] My airway’s blocked. I can’t breathe. You want to like raise your chest or trying to catch the air, but you can’t. That’s how I feel.   [ARSHY] She asked her son to drive her to Scarborough Grace Hospital. And when they got to the emergency room, a man was outside screening people and asking them questions.   [CONCEPCION] He was saying, “I have to screen you.” I said, “No, don’t screen me.” And I feel like I’m going to die. I can’t breathe.   [ARSHY] The man tried to determine whether she should come wait in the emergency room.   [CONCEPCION] And I can tell my son and my husband are crying. Yelling at them, “Don’t come near me. Don’t come near me.” So I said to one of the staff, I said, “I’m gonna pass out. Please help me. I have COVID. I’m an RN and I work in long-term care.” That’s all I said. And then they took me right away   [ARSHY] They put her on oxygen. But then they realized she was developing congestive heart failure. So they gave her injections, antibiotics, anti-clotting agents… Luckily, Joadel had gotten there in time. She didn’t die. She’s now out of the hospital and fully recovered.  But a lot of people haven’t been so lucky. Since the beginning of the pandemic, thousands of long-term care workers have come down with COVID-19. And 16 of them have died. I’m Arshy Mann, and from CANADALAND, this is Commons.   PART ONE [ARSHY] In stories about long-term care, the workers are often left out of the picture. It’s the nurses, the personal support workers and so many others in these facilities that really have been on the front-line of this pandemic. But they’re work isn’t viewed as sexy or captivating. After all, people don’t make TV shows or movies about long-term care, like they do with hospitals.  And compared to their counterparts in emergency rooms and critical care units, their frontline labour is often devalued.    [NAOMI LIGHTMAN] And they’re often what we refer to as the three “D”s. So, jobs that are dirty, difficult, and, especially during times of a health pandemic, highly dangerous. My name is Naomi Lightman and I’m an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Calgary. My research focuses on the intersection between gender, migration, race and care work.   [ARSHY] According to her research, it’s clear that these jobs, especially personal support workers who provide a big chunk of the day-to-day care, are occupied by specific kinds of people.    [LIGHTMAN] So this is overwhelmingly a female workforce and it’s very much racialized. When we talk just broadly about racialized women, it doesn’t actually capture it. It’s really specifically two groups that we’re talking about. We’re talking about black women and Filipino women who are, in the case of black women, over two times as likely as white women to be working in these jobs and with Filipino women over three times as likely.   [ARSHY] And the people working in these types of positions are also much more likely to be recent immigrants.    [LIGHTMAN] So, when we look at personal support workers or people working specifically in long term care institutions, these are, in fact, among the most precarious and the lowest wage workers, especially in private institutions.  When we compare them to just the average worker and we’re still controlling for factors like their education and their family structure… So holding these factors constant, we see that there is a 40 percent wage penalty for low-skill care work.   [ARSHY] Naomi Lightman says that this is because caring for people has historically been viewed as, quote-unquote, women’s work.    [LIGHTMAN] And I think as this kind of work has entered the paid labor force, we’ve continued to view it through a lens of work that doesn’t really matter or doesn’t hold the same value to other types of paid work. So, we rely on women who are coming from the Global South to do this work that we don’t want to do, and we continue to view it as labor that doesn’t hold the same value as other kinds of work.   [ARSHY] Lisa Burke is a personal support worker at peopleCare Oakcrossing, a long-term care facility in London, Ontario. Here’s what a typical day looks like for her.    [LISA BURKE] I work straight day-shifts. I work 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. When we get to our unit, we have to come a few minutes early to get a report. There’s usually three to four staff to 32 residents.  We get report. They tell us if there’s anybody who’s been hospitalized, any changes, any med changes, any behaviors, any falls, anything like that. We have two hours to get the 32 residents up, dressed, bathed, hairbrush, teeth in, and into the dining room to be fed for breakfast. Some of these residents are aggressive. Some of the residents are fairly independent. And we just have to help with small things, like picking out their clothes. Some people need total care where they have to be dressed, rolled, changed, use a mechanical lift.  If we have to use a mechanical lift  there has to be a minimum of two people to then get that person up and into their wheelchair. We’re supposed to chart at the same time as getting them ready, which is near impossible. And then we have an hour to feed them breakfast. Most times we don’t get into the dining room exactly when we’re supposed to. We’re usually late because there’s just so much care to be done and we don’t have enough people to do it. And then we have to feed them. We’re only supposed to feed two people at a time. So a lot of people have to wait to get their meal because we can only feed two people at a time. After breakfast, we would have to take them back to their rooms. If we can, get a break in. And then you would start toileting residents. Helping, taking them to activities, changing them. Some people lay down for a nap. Finish some baths. And then you would get people back up, toilet people, and then we’d go for lunch, and feed them lunch, the same thing. And then we have like an hour to get people out of the dining room and then back to the rooms, toilet them, change them, lay them down for a nap, if they need to have a nap, and try to chart and get everything done at the same time.   [ARSHY] Lisa Burke says that her home is always understaffed. And when they ask for more help, management tells them that they don’t have enough funding.    [BURKE] We don’t have enough staff at all to give any of the residents the type of care they need and deserve.   [ARSHY] Zaid Noorsumar is a labour reporter who’s been covering long-term care workers. And he says that, even as the care needs of long-term residents have been growing, staff aren’t getting more of the resources they need.   [ZAID NOORSUMAR] Residents coming into long-term care now have increasingly complex needs and they require a higher level of care, while, at the same time, the staffing ratios have not kept up. They haven’t been increased in accordance with the acuity of patients. So that’s a big factor, and what that means is that staff are constantly rushing. They’re running around. They don’t have the time to spend with residents.   [BURKE] People think that we get paid this giant amount of money and that we’re lazy because we’re complaining that we don’t have enough time or the manpower to do the work. I don’t think they know how physically, mentally, emotionally draining the job actually is.   [ARSHY] Joanna Bulatao agrees. She’s a registered practical nurse at Villa Leonardo Gambin, the same facility that Joedel Concepcion works at.    [JOANNA BULATAO] A lot of our staff, they’re constantly, like… Overwork themselves or, like, they really give their all when they’re providing, like, care to our residents. And it gets very, very tiring, like, especially during now. It does get exhausting. It’s not that we don’t want to provide care. It’s just that we become so drained because we want to help.   [ARSHY] And long-term care workers form close personal bonds with the people they take care of.   [NOORSUMAR] They think of residents as their family members, and they really feel they–they want to provide the best care that they can. In fact, one of the workers that I spoke with, who used to be in home care… I think now she works long-term care. She said, “Mentally, it’s a very draining job. You get attached to your client and then you get frustrated because you know the need for care but they aren’t getting it. Most of us PSWs are the type that, if the client’s having a bad day, it’s hard not to take that with you. And she said, after years and years of not being able to provide health care, she was burned out and she quit. She said, “I started my car and I started crying and I couldn’t stop.” And that’s the day she quit.   [ARSHY] All of the workers we spoke to said the same thing: the people they care for become like family to them.   [BURKE] Even when we have a person who becomes palliative or passes away, a part of us goes with them, too. Like, a lot of the time we’re in the room with them, or with the family. We’re crying with the family. Or even if they’re alone, we’re with them, holding them, as they take their last breath. Like, it’s… It’s like losing a part of your family.    [BULATAO] I think people don’t really realize that, like, when you’re with the same residents, they kind of become like a part of you. Like, they become, like, your–your family. That’s–that’s who we’re taking care of. We’re taking care of them just like we would our grandparents.   PART TWO [ARSHY] Joadel Concepcion, who you heard at the top of the show, came to Canada from the Philippines in 1995. She first worked as a nanny and then took some courses and became a registered nurse. Soon, she was working in long-term care. And, since 2004, she’s been working at Villa Leonardo Gambin, a long-term care home in Woodbridge, Ontario. The home was built for the nearby Italian community, so in order to be able to care for the residents, Jodel’s learned as much Italian as she could.   [CONCEPCION] So you have to encourage them and say… [speaking Italian]   [ARSHY] Villa Leonardo Gambin is technically a non-profit home, but it’s run by Sienna, one of the largest for-profit long-term care providers. The home would have pandemic preparedness training every year and Joadel was one of the people tasked with ensuring that people’s masks fit properly. By early March of this year, Joadel was getting more and more worried about COVID-19. She’d had family members who had gotten SARS, and she knew how scary things could get. And she says that, early on, it became clear that the staff weren’t going to get the proper personal protective equipment. By mid-March, the doctor who used to come do rounds refused to enter the building.     [CONCEPCION] They don’t do rounds in the building because they know that the administrator is not giving him PPE. Dr. Bujon will only do OTN with me using my cell phone to see his patients from the middle of March, or almost third week of March.   [ARSHY] By the weekend of March 27th, some of the residents on Joadel’s floor started coming down with COVID-19 symptoms, like fevers and coughs. And the staff started to ask management for masks.    [CONCEPCION] When are they giving us mass? This resident is coughing. We don’t have enough masks. We’re talking about surgical masks, okay? She says, “I gave you guys. If you finish it, that’s your problem.” That’s always her comment. Everybody knew that.    [ARSHY] And because Joadel is the union steward, staff started to come to her, saying that they were short on PPE. But Joadel says that when she took those concerns to management, they were just brushed off.   [CONCEPCION] What? Did I told you to talk to me? I told her to talk to me. Why she’s telling you? I said, no, she’s telling me now, because I’m the union steward. It’s my responsibility to follow up. So then she says, “Well, the public health say that you have to wear masks.”   [ARSHY] A spokesperson for Sienna denied that staff at Villa Leonardo Gambin were ever told not to wear PPE, especially when they were supporting residents displaying respiratory flu-like symptoms. Over the next few days, a number of residents started to experience upper respiratory issues, a telltale COVID-19 symptom.    [CONCEPCION] And some staff, they put on their own from their home. They would get mad at you.   [ARSHY] Joadel says that the message from management was clear. Because Public Health Ontario had yet to mandate it, no one had to wear a mask. And so they weren’t going to be provided any. Joanna Bulatao says that it was very difficult for staff members to get PPE.   [BULATAO] I don’t think that they were prepared for that to spread to other floors, because when it did, it didn’t really feel, like, that we had as much supplies and they felt like we were, like, pulling teeth to get, like, the supplies because we were running low in the home.   [ARSHY] The staff continued to work in close proximity to each other and to provide bedside care. And all the while, residents were moving around the facility.    [CONCEPCION] They’re in the rooms, but they come out. They’re wandering. What are you going to do, tie them on their beds? You’re going to lose your job.   [ARSHY] On March 28, Joadel says that managers asked her to test a number of residents for COVID-19, even though it wasn’t her job. She wasn’t given the proper PPE, but she did it anyways. The next day, another nurse came down with a fever. And within a week, Joadel came down with one, too. That same day, she heard that one of the residents she had tested was now positive.  Within another week, Joadel Concepcion was in the emergency room at Scarborough Grace Hospital, convinced that she was going to die.    [CONCEPCION] I have a lot of diarrhea, vomiting, and so my potassium is low. My heart arrhythmia acted up. I developed congestive heart failure. I had COVID-19 pneumonia.   [ARSHY] Joadel prayed to God that she would survive and be able to spend time with her family.    [CONCEPCION] I’m not a perfect human being. Just give me another chance to live. I still want to see my son get married and have grandkids. And, you know, um, He has to give me another chance to live again. But you know, Arshy, I was… I was just praying. And I just prayed and I said, “God…” And you’re making me cry. [indistinct] It’s so sad.   [ARSHY] But during that time, she couldn’t help but feel betrayed. She had thought that her managers were her friends, that they looked out for her.   [CONCEPCION] I work… I worked with these managers for many years. And I… I… I’m not nobody to them. And then they… Just to give me the N95. They says there’s no supply.   [ARSHY] While she was sitting in that hospital bed recovering, Joedel was amazed by what she saw around her. The protocols, the protections in the hospital were nothing like  in long-term care.    [CONCEPCION] When I was in Scarborough Grace, they disinfect. They come to my room three times, the full shift, the whole day, to take the garbage. Do proper disinfection. They’re wearing double masks, one N95 and the surgical mask under facial, and double gowns, and three pairs of gloves. In long term care, you share everything. They don’t do proper disinfection from the beginning before the COVID. How about now?   [ARSHY] At least twelve residents of Villa Leonardo Gambin have died of COVID-19. And, according to Joadel, 31 employees, including herself, have been infected with the coronavirus. She says that the last staff member who got sick was on May 17the, a month and a half after the outbreak began.  We reached out to Sienna for comment about all of this, and, in an emailed statement, they said that throughout the pandemic, their highest priority has been to ensure the safety of their team members and residents. They say that they ensured ample supplies of PPE were available, including N95 masks, and that charge nurses have access to the residence’s storage room to ensure that team members can acquire new PPE at all times. According to Sienna, team members were encouraged to wear PPE provided by the home, instead of their own, to ensure it met the appropriate standard, and they thanked their team members for their heroic work and their ongoing dedication throughout this pandemic.   OUTRO [ARSHY] As the COVID-19 outbreak was sweeping through the long-term care facility where she worked, Joanna Bulatao was scared.   [BULATAO] It was horrible. <laughs> I mean, it’s like a whole internal battle with yourself because it’s like you want to go into work, you want to help yourself. You want to help your residents. Like, you want to be there and–and do your job. Like, you want to actually help them. But obviously, at the back of your mind, you’re always thinking, like, “Oh, my God, what if I get sick? Like, what if I bring this home to my family? What if I…” You know, “What if I… What if I’m a carrier?”   [ARSHY] And like so many of her colleagues, she became infected and had to stop coming into work.   [BULATAO] As a nurse, I want to be helping. I want to be there. I want to give as much as I can during, like, these difficult times. And knowing that I can’t, and knowing that as I want to, I can’t do anything about it. It’s really frustrating. And it really takes a toll on, like, mental health. And it’s just the worst feeling ever.   [ARSHY] But what got to her the most was that so many of the people she was charged with caring for are now dead. She was stationed on the floor that lost the most residents.     [BULATAO] It was honestly the hardest thing. When I found out that, like, residents were starting to pass on a unit, it was… Either I was breaking down on–on the phone when someone was telling me or I was trying to, like, hold it together. And, it’s just because you build that relationship with them. You remember all of the memories that you have with them. And then to just think that, like, “Oh, well, that’s all you have now, are just memories.” It’s… It’s very hard. Very hard.   [ARSHY] Lisa Burke was lucky enough to not become infected with the coronavirus. But she is frustrated by the state of long-term care. And she thinks enough is enough.    [BURKE] We’ve been… Us, like, in the union, have been yelling, like, “We need more help, we need more staff, we need more of this.” Like, you guys need to come in and regulate more things. And I just think it’s–it’s very, very sad that a pandemic has to show the world what we’ve been shouting for many, many years now.  We are the backbone of the healthcare system, and a lot of people just don’t see the hard work and the dedication of long-term care employees.   END CREDITS [ARSHY] That’s your episode of Commons for the week. If you want to support us, click on the link in your show notes or go to commonspodcast.com This episode relied on work done by Naomi Lightman, Zaid Noorsumar, Tamara Daly, Pat Armstrong and Nora Loreto. If you want to get in touch with us, you can tweet at us at @COMMONSpod. You can also email me, Arshy@canadalandshow.com This episode was produced by me and Jordan Cornish, with additional production by Tiffany Lam. Our managing editor is Andréa Schmidt. And our music is by Nathan Burley.  If you like what we do, please help us make this show. Click on the link in your shownotes or go to commonspodcast.com   I think you should be getting our newsletterGet a weekly note about our top stories.This is a good thing that we do. You'll like this.johnsmith@example.comSign UpForm is being submitted, please wait a bit.Please fill out all required fields.
March 7, 2017
70
You Have No Rights At The Border
Support us at commonspodcast.com Long-term care workers are in the vanguard in the war against COVID-19. They’re not the kinds of workers who get movies or TV shows made about them. In fact, their stories are rarely told. But not only are they battling heroically against this pandemic. They’re fighting for recognition and respect within a system built to marginalize them.  COMMONS: Pandemic is currently focusing on how COVID-19 is affecting long-term care in Canada.   Featured in this episode: Joadel Concepcion, Joanna Bulatao, Lisa Burke, Naomi Lightman, Zaid Noorsumar To learn more: “‘We are dropping like flies,’ says Ontario home care nurse” by Zaid Noorsumar in Rank and File “Fear and exhaustion: Working as a PSW in long-term care during the coronavirus” by Alanna Mitchell in Maclean’s “Comparing Care Regimes: Worker Characteristics and Wage Penalties in the Global Care Chain” by Naomi Lightman in Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State & Society   This episode is sponsored by Freshbooks Additional music from Audio Network   TRANSCRIPT:    EPISODE 7 – “THE FRONTLINE”   COLD OPEN [ARSHY MANN] Joadel Concepcion’s been working as a registered nurse in long-term care for almost two decades. And she remembers the last time things seemed this frightening. It was 2003. That was when a different coronavirus was sweeping the world, causing Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or “SARS” for short.    [JOADEL CONCEPCION] During SARS time there is a lot of nurses <indistinct> got sick. Even my sister-in-law, she got sick. We have that fear. Why am I going to have this stress again? We don’t know.   [ARSHY] So when she started feeling feverish in early April, Joadel went out to get tested right away.   [CONCEPCION] My first symptoms started on a Saturday, which is April four. I went right away to Scarborough Grace to get tested. And then when I came back home, I had a little bit of OCD for even from SRS time. So when–when I came home, I took a shower because I thought the fever will just subside.   [ARSHY] But the fever didn’t subside. Instead, the symptoms started to get more intense.   [CONCEPCION] I was coughing. I was vomiting. When my husband give me the food, like… I don’t have an appetite. I don’t smell it and I don’t taste it.   [ARSHY] For a few days, Joadel stayed at home, trying to get rest and stay hydrated. But by April 8, she was having trouble breathing.    [CONCEPCION] My airway’s blocked. I can’t breathe. You want to like raise your chest or trying to catch the air, but you can’t. That’s how I feel.   [ARSHY] She asked her son to drive her to Scarborough Grace Hospital. And when they got to the emergency room, a man was outside screening people and asking them questions.   [CONCEPCION] He was saying, “I have to screen you.” I said, “No, don’t screen me.” And I feel like I’m going to die. I can’t breathe.   [ARSHY] The man tried to determine whether she should come wait in the emergency room.   [CONCEPCION] And I can tell my son and my husband are crying. Yelling at them, “Don’t come near me. Don’t come near me.” So I said to one of the staff, I said, “I’m gonna pass out. Please help me. I have COVID. I’m an RN and I work in long-term care.” That’s all I said. And then they took me right away   [ARSHY] They put her on oxygen. But then they realized she was developing congestive heart failure. So they gave her injections, antibiotics, anti-clotting agents… Luckily, Joadel had gotten there in time. She didn’t die. She’s now out of the hospital and fully recovered.  But a lot of people haven’t been so lucky. Since the beginning of the pandemic, thousands of long-term care workers have come down with COVID-19. And 16 of them have died. I’m Arshy Mann, and from CANADALAND, this is Commons.   PART ONE [ARSHY] In stories about long-term care, the workers are often left out of the picture. It’s the nurses, the personal support workers and so many others in these facilities that really have been on the front-line of this pandemic. But they’re work isn’t viewed as sexy or captivating. After all, people don’t make TV shows or movies about long-term care, like they do with hospitals.  And compared to their counterparts in emergency rooms and critical care units, their frontline labour is often devalued.    [NAOMI LIGHTMAN] And they’re often what we refer to as the three “D”s. So, jobs that are dirty, difficult, and, especially during times of a health pandemic, highly dangerous. My name is Naomi Lightman and I’m an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Calgary. My research focuses on the intersection between gender, migration, race and care work.   [ARSHY] According to her research, it’s clear that these jobs, especially personal support workers who provide a big chunk of the day-to-day care, are occupied by specific kinds of people.    [LIGHTMAN] So this is overwhelmingly a female workforce and it’s very much racialized. When we talk just broadly about racialized women, it doesn’t actually capture it. It’s really specifically two groups that we’re talking about. We’re talking about black women and Filipino women who are, in the case of black women, over two times as likely as white women to be working in these jobs and with Filipino women over three times as likely.   [ARSHY] And the people working in these types of positions are also much more likely to be recent immigrants.    [LIGHTMAN] So, when we look at personal support workers or people working specifically in long term care institutions, these are, in fact, among the most precarious and the lowest wage workers, especially in private institutions.  When we compare them to just the average worker and we’re still controlling for factors like their education and their family structure… So holding these factors constant, we see that there is a 40 percent wage penalty for low-skill care work.   [ARSHY] Naomi Lightman says that this is because caring for people has historically been viewed as, quote-unquote, women’s work.    [LIGHTMAN] And I think as this kind of work has entered the paid labor force, we’ve continued to view it through a lens of work that doesn’t really matter or doesn’t hold the same value to other types of paid work. So, we rely on women who are coming from the Global South to do this work that we don’t want to do, and we continue to view it as labor that doesn’t hold the same value as other kinds of work.   [ARSHY] Lisa Burke is a personal support worker at peopleCare Oakcrossing, a long-term care facility in London, Ontario. Here’s what a typical day looks like for her.    [LISA BURKE] I work straight day-shifts. I work 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. When we get to our unit, we have to come a few minutes early to get a report. There’s usually three to four staff to 32 residents.  We get report. They tell us if there’s anybody who’s been hospitalized, any changes, any med changes, any behaviors, any falls, anything like that. We have two hours to get the 32 residents up, dressed, bathed, hairbrush, teeth in, and into the dining room to be fed for breakfast. Some of these residents are aggressive. Some of the residents are fairly independent. And we just have to help with small things, like picking out their clothes. Some people need total care where they have to be dressed, rolled, changed, use a mechanical lift.  If we have to use a mechanical lift  there has to be a minimum of two people to then get that person up and into their wheelchair. We’re supposed to chart at the same time as getting them ready, which is near impossible. And then we have an hour to feed them breakfast. Most times we don’t get into the dining room exactly when we’re supposed to. We’re usually late because there’s just so much care to be done and we don’t have enough people to do it. And then we have to feed them. We’re only supposed to feed two people at a time. So a lot of people have to wait to get their meal because we can only feed two people at a time. After breakfast, we would have to take them back to their rooms. If we can, get a break in. And then you would start toileting residents. Helping, taking them to activities, changing them. Some people lay down for a nap. Finish some baths. And then you would get people back up, toilet people, and then we’d go for lunch, and feed them lunch, the same thing. And then we have like an hour to get people out of the dining room and then back to the rooms, toilet them, change them, lay them down for a nap, if they need to have a nap, and try to chart and get everything done at the same time.   [ARSHY] Lisa Burke says that her home is always understaffed. And when they ask for more help, management tells them that they don’t have enough funding.    [BURKE] We don’t have enough staff at all to give any of the residents the type of care they need and deserve.   [ARSHY] Zaid Noorsumar is a labour reporter who’s been covering long-term care workers. And he says that, even as the care needs of long-term residents have been growing, staff aren’t getting more of the resources they need.   [ZAID NOORSUMAR] Residents coming into long-term care now have increasingly complex needs and they require a higher level of care, while, at the same time, the staffing ratios have not kept up. They haven’t been increased in accordance with the acuity of patients. So that’s a big factor, and what that means is that staff are constantly rushing. They’re running around. They don’t have the time to spend with residents.   [BURKE] People think that we get paid this giant amount of money and that we’re lazy because we’re complaining that we don’t have enough time or the manpower to do the work. I don’t think they know how physically, mentally, emotionally draining the job actually is.   [ARSHY] Joanna Bulatao agrees. She’s a registered practical nurse at Villa Leonardo Gambin, the same facility that Joedel Concepcion works at.    [JOANNA BULATAO] A lot of our staff, they’re constantly, like… Overwork themselves or, like, they really give their all when they’re providing, like, care to our residents. And it gets very, very tiring, like, especially during now. It does get exhausting. It’s not that we don’t want to provide care. It’s just that we become so drained because we want to help.   [ARSHY] And long-term care workers form close personal bonds with the people they take care of.   [NOORSUMAR] They think of residents as their family members, and they really feel they–they want to provide the best care that they can. In fact, one of the workers that I spoke with, who used to be in home care… I think now she works long-term care. She said, “Mentally, it’s a very draining job. You get attached to your client and then you get frustrated because you know the need for care but they aren’t getting it. Most of us PSWs are the type that, if the client’s having a bad day, it’s hard not to take that with you. And she said, after years and years of not being able to provide health care, she was burned out and she quit. She said, “I started my car and I started crying and I couldn’t stop.” And that’s the day she quit.   [ARSHY] All of the workers we spoke to said the same thing: the people they care for become like family to them.   [BURKE] Even when we have a person who becomes palliative or passes away, a part of us goes with them, too. Like, a lot of the time we’re in the room with them, or with the family. We’re crying with the family. Or even if they’re alone, we’re with them, holding them, as they take their last breath. Like, it’s… It’s like losing a part of your family.    [BULATAO] I think people don’t really realize that, like, when you’re with the same residents, they kind of become like a part of you. Like, they become, like, your–your family. That’s–that’s who we’re taking care of. We’re taking care of them just like we would our grandparents.   PART TWO [ARSHY] Joadel Concepcion, who you heard at the top of the show, came to Canada from the Philippines in 1995. She first worked as a nanny and then took some courses and became a registered nurse. Soon, she was working in long-term care. And, since 2004, she’s been working at Villa Leonardo Gambin, a long-term care home in Woodbridge, Ontario. The home was built for the nearby Italian community, so in order to be able to care for the residents, Jodel’s learned as much Italian as she could.   [CONCEPCION] So you have to encourage them and say… [speaking Italian]   [ARSHY] Villa Leonardo Gambin is technically a non-profit home, but it’s run by Sienna, one of the largest for-profit long-term care providers. The home would have pandemic preparedness training every year and Joadel was one of the people tasked with ensuring that people’s masks fit properly. By early March of this year, Joadel was getting more and more worried about COVID-19. She’d had family members who had gotten SARS, and she knew how scary things could get. And she says that, early on, it became clear that the staff weren’t going to get the proper personal protective equipment. By mid-March, the doctor who used to come do rounds refused to enter the building.     [CONCEPCION] They don’t do rounds in the building because they know that the administrator is not giving him PPE. Dr. Bujon will only do OTN with me using my cell phone to see his patients from the middle of March, or almost third week of March.   [ARSHY] By the weekend of March 27th, some of the residents on Joadel’s floor started coming down with COVID-19 symptoms, like fevers and coughs. And the staff started to ask management for masks.    [CONCEPCION] When are they giving us mass? This resident is coughing. We don’t have enough masks. We’re talking about surgical masks, okay? She says, “I gave you guys. If you finish it, that’s your problem.” That’s always her comment. Everybody knew that.    [ARSHY] And because Joadel is the union steward, staff started to come to her, saying that they were short on PPE. But Joadel says that when she took those concerns to management, they were just brushed off.   [CONCEPCION] What? Did I told you to talk to me? I told her to talk to me. Why she’s telling you? I said, no, she’s telling me now, because I’m the union steward. It’s my responsibility to follow up. So then she says, “Well, the public health say that you have to wear masks.”   [ARSHY] A spokesperson for Sienna denied that staff at Villa Leonardo Gambin were ever told not to wear PPE, especially when they were supporting residents displaying respiratory flu-like symptoms. Over the next few days, a number of residents started to experience upper respiratory issues, a telltale COVID-19 symptom.    [CONCEPCION] And some staff, they put on their own from their home. They would get mad at you.   [ARSHY] Joadel says that the message from management was clear. Because Public Health Ontario had yet to mandate it, no one had to wear a mask. And so they weren’t going to be provided any. Joanna Bulatao says that it was very difficult for staff members to get PPE.   [BULATAO] I don’t think that they were prepared for that to spread to other floors, because when it did, it didn’t really feel, like, that we had as much supplies and they felt like we were, like, pulling teeth to get, like, the supplies because we were running low in the home.   [ARSHY] The staff continued to work in close proximity to each other and to provide bedside care. And all the while, residents were moving around the facility.    [CONCEPCION] They’re in the rooms, but they come out. They’re wandering. What are you going to do, tie them on their beds? You’re going to lose your job.   [ARSHY] On March 28, Joadel says that managers asked her to test a number of residents for COVID-19, even though it wasn’t her job. She wasn’t given the proper PPE, but she did it anyways. The next day, another nurse came down with a fever. And within a week, Joadel came down with one, too. That same day, she heard that one of the residents she had tested was now positive.  Within another week, Joadel Concepcion was in the emergency room at Scarborough Grace Hospital, convinced that she was going to die.    [CONCEPCION] I have a lot of diarrhea, vomiting, and so my potassium is low. My heart arrhythmia acted up. I developed congestive heart failure. I had COVID-19 pneumonia.   [ARSHY] Joadel prayed to God that she would survive and be able to spend time with her family.    [CONCEPCION] I’m not a perfect human being. Just give me another chance to live. I still want to see my son get married and have grandkids. And, you know, um, He has to give me another chance to live again. But you know, Arshy, I was… I was just praying. And I just prayed and I said, “God…” And you’re making me cry. [indistinct] It’s so sad.   [ARSHY] But during that time, she couldn’t help but feel betrayed. She had thought that her managers were her friends, that they looked out for her.   [CONCEPCION] I work… I worked with these managers for many years. And I… I… I’m not nobody to them. And then they… Just to give me the N95. They says there’s no supply.   [ARSHY] While she was sitting in that hospital bed recovering, Joedel was amazed by what she saw around her. The protocols, the protections in the hospital were nothing like  in long-term care.    [CONCEPCION] When I was in Scarborough Grace, they disinfect. They come to my room three times, the full shift, the whole day, to take the garbage. Do proper disinfection. They’re wearing double masks, one N95 and the surgical mask under facial, and double gowns, and three pairs of gloves. In long term care, you share everything. They don’t do proper disinfection from the beginning before the COVID. How about now?   [ARSHY] At least twelve residents of Villa Leonardo Gambin have died of COVID-19. And, according to Joadel, 31 employees, including herself, have been infected with the coronavirus. She says that the last staff member who got sick was on May 17the, a month and a half after the outbreak began.  We reached out to Sienna for comment about all of this, and, in an emailed statement, they said that throughout the pandemic, their highest priority has been to ensure the safety of their team members and residents. They say that they ensured ample supplies of PPE were available, including N95 masks, and that charge nurses have access to the residence’s storage room to ensure that team members can acquire new PPE at all times. According to Sienna, team members were encouraged to wear PPE provided by the home, instead of their own, to ensure it met the appropriate standard, and they thanked their team members for their heroic work and their ongoing dedication throughout this pandemic.   OUTRO [ARSHY] As the COVID-19 outbreak was sweeping through the long-term care facility where she worked, Joanna Bulatao was scared.   [BULATAO] It was horrible. <laughs> I mean, it’s like a whole internal battle with yourself because it’s like you want to go into work, you want to help yourself. You want to help your residents. Like, you want to be there and–and do your job. Like, you want to actually help them. But obviously, at the back of your mind, you’re always thinking, like, “Oh, my God, what if I get sick? Like, what if I bring this home to my family? What if I…” You know, “What if I… What if I’m a carrier?”   [ARSHY] And like so many of her colleagues, she became infected and had to stop coming into work.   [BULATAO] As a nurse, I want to be helping. I want to be there. I want to give as much as I can during, like, these difficult times. And knowing that I can’t, and knowing that as I want to, I can’t do anything about it. It’s really frustrating. And it really takes a toll on, like, mental health. And it’s just the worst feeling ever.   [ARSHY] But what got to her the most was that so many of the people she was charged with caring for are now dead. She was stationed on the floor that lost the most residents.     [BULATAO] It was honestly the hardest thing. When I found out that, like, residents were starting to pass on a unit, it was… Either I was breaking down on–on the phone when someone was telling me or I was trying to, like, hold it together. And, it’s just because you build that relationship with them. You remember all of the memories that you have with them. And then to just think that, like, “Oh, well, that’s all you have now, are just memories.” It’s… It’s very hard. Very hard.   [ARSHY] Lisa Burke was lucky enough to not become infected with the coronavirus. But she is frustrated by the state of long-term care. And she thinks enough is enough.    [BURKE] We’ve been… Us, like, in the union, have been yelling, like, “We need more help, we need more staff, we need more of this.” Like, you guys need to come in and regulate more things. And I just think it’s–it’s very, very sad that a pandemic has to show the world what we’ve been shouting for many, many years now.  We are the backbone of the healthcare system, and a lot of people just don’t see the hard work and the dedication of long-term care employees.   END CREDITS [ARSHY] That’s your episode of Commons for the week. If you want to support us, click on the link in your show notes or go to commonspodcast.com This episode relied on work done by Naomi Lightman, Zaid Noorsumar, Tamara Daly, Pat Armstrong and Nora Loreto. If you want to get in touch with us, you can tweet at us at @COMMONSpod. You can also email me, Arshy@canadalandshow.com This episode was produced by me and Jordan Cornish, with additional production by Tiffany Lam. Our managing editor is Andréa Schmidt. And our music is by Nathan Burley.  If you like what we do, please help us make this show. Click on the link in your shownotes or go to commonspodcast.com   I think you should be getting our newsletterGet a weekly note about our top stories.This is a good thing that we do. You'll like this.johnsmith@example.comSign UpForm is being submitted, please wait a bit.Please fill out all required fields.
March 21, 2017
71
Being Icky Is The Job
The Liberals, according to Conservative MP Scott Reid, are trying to "ram through whatever the f**** they want." In other, vaguely sexually-themed Conservative news, Brad Trost isn't down with the "the whole gay thing," while k.d. lang asks if Jason Kenney might be secretly fond of it. Kellie Leitch and Senator Lynn Beyak? Just crapping on Muslims and Indigenous peoples again, respectively. Nothing sexy there.
April 4, 2017
72
Commons Gets High
Support us at commonspodcast.com Long-term care workers are in the vanguard in the war against COVID-19. They’re not the kinds of workers who get movies or TV shows made about them. In fact, their stories are rarely told. But not only are they battling heroically against this pandemic. They’re fighting for recognition and respect within a system built to marginalize them.  COMMONS: Pandemic is currently focusing on how COVID-19 is affecting long-term care in Canada.   Featured in this episode: Joadel Concepcion, Joanna Bulatao, Lisa Burke, Naomi Lightman, Zaid Noorsumar To learn more: “‘We are dropping like flies,’ says Ontario home care nurse” by Zaid Noorsumar in Rank and File “Fear and exhaustion: Working as a PSW in long-term care during the coronavirus” by Alanna Mitchell in Maclean’s “Comparing Care Regimes: Worker Characteristics and Wage Penalties in the Global Care Chain” by Naomi Lightman in Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State & Society   This episode is sponsored by Freshbooks Additional music from Audio Network   TRANSCRIPT:    EPISODE 7 – “THE FRONTLINE”   COLD OPEN [ARSHY MANN] Joadel Concepcion’s been working as a registered nurse in long-term care for almost two decades. And she remembers the last time things seemed this frightening. It was 2003. That was when a different coronavirus was sweeping the world, causing Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or “SARS” for short.    [JOADEL CONCEPCION] During SARS time there is a lot of nurses <indistinct> got sick. Even my sister-in-law, she got sick. We have that fear. Why am I going to have this stress again? We don’t know.   [ARSHY] So when she started feeling feverish in early April, Joadel went out to get tested right away.   [CONCEPCION] My first symptoms started on a Saturday, which is April four. I went right away to Scarborough Grace to get tested. And then when I came back home, I had a little bit of OCD for even from SRS time. So when–when I came home, I took a shower because I thought the fever will just subside.   [ARSHY] But the fever didn’t subside. Instead, the symptoms started to get more intense.   [CONCEPCION] I was coughing. I was vomiting. When my husband give me the food, like… I don’t have an appetite. I don’t smell it and I don’t taste it.   [ARSHY] For a few days, Joadel stayed at home, trying to get rest and stay hydrated. But by April 8, she was having trouble breathing.    [CONCEPCION] My airway’s blocked. I can’t breathe. You want to like raise your chest or trying to catch the air, but you can’t. That’s how I feel.   [ARSHY] She asked her son to drive her to Scarborough Grace Hospital. And when they got to the emergency room, a man was outside screening people and asking them questions.   [CONCEPCION] He was saying, “I have to screen you.” I said, “No, don’t screen me.” And I feel like I’m going to die. I can’t breathe.   [ARSHY] The man tried to determine whether she should come wait in the emergency room.   [CONCEPCION] And I can tell my son and my husband are crying. Yelling at them, “Don’t come near me. Don’t come near me.” So I said to one of the staff, I said, “I’m gonna pass out. Please help me. I have COVID. I’m an RN and I work in long-term care.” That’s all I said. And then they took me right away   [ARSHY] They put her on oxygen. But then they realized she was developing congestive heart failure. So they gave her injections, antibiotics, anti-clotting agents… Luckily, Joadel had gotten there in time. She didn’t die. She’s now out of the hospital and fully recovered.  But a lot of people haven’t been so lucky. Since the beginning of the pandemic, thousands of long-term care workers have come down with COVID-19. And 16 of them have died. I’m Arshy Mann, and from CANADALAND, this is Commons.   PART ONE [ARSHY] In stories about long-term care, the workers are often left out of the picture. It’s the nurses, the personal support workers and so many others in these facilities that really have been on the front-line of this pandemic. But they’re work isn’t viewed as sexy or captivating. After all, people don’t make TV shows or movies about long-term care, like they do with hospitals.  And compared to their counterparts in emergency rooms and critical care units, their frontline labour is often devalued.    [NAOMI LIGHTMAN] And they’re often what we refer to as the three “D”s. So, jobs that are dirty, difficult, and, especially during times of a health pandemic, highly dangerous. My name is Naomi Lightman and I’m an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Calgary. My research focuses on the intersection between gender, migration, race and care work.   [ARSHY] According to her research, it’s clear that these jobs, especially personal support workers who provide a big chunk of the day-to-day care, are occupied by specific kinds of people.    [LIGHTMAN] So this is overwhelmingly a female workforce and it’s very much racialized. When we talk just broadly about racialized women, it doesn’t actually capture it. It’s really specifically two groups that we’re talking about. We’re talking about black women and Filipino women who are, in the case of black women, over two times as likely as white women to be working in these jobs and with Filipino women over three times as likely.   [ARSHY] And the people working in these types of positions are also much more likely to be recent immigrants.    [LIGHTMAN] So, when we look at personal support workers or people working specifically in long term care institutions, these are, in fact, among the most precarious and the lowest wage workers, especially in private institutions.  When we compare them to just the average worker and we’re still controlling for factors like their education and their family structure… So holding these factors constant, we see that there is a 40 percent wage penalty for low-skill care work.   [ARSHY] Naomi Lightman says that this is because caring for people has historically been viewed as, quote-unquote, women’s work.    [LIGHTMAN] And I think as this kind of work has entered the paid labor force, we’ve continued to view it through a lens of work that doesn’t really matter or doesn’t hold the same value to other types of paid work. So, we rely on women who are coming from the Global South to do this work that we don’t want to do, and we continue to view it as labor that doesn’t hold the same value as other kinds of work.   [ARSHY] Lisa Burke is a personal support worker at peopleCare Oakcrossing, a long-term care facility in London, Ontario. Here’s what a typical day looks like for her.    [LISA BURKE] I work straight day-shifts. I work 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. When we get to our unit, we have to come a few minutes early to get a report. There’s usually three to four staff to 32 residents.  We get report. They tell us if there’s anybody who’s been hospitalized, any changes, any med changes, any behaviors, any falls, anything like that. We have two hours to get the 32 residents up, dressed, bathed, hairbrush, teeth in, and into the dining room to be fed for breakfast. Some of these residents are aggressive. Some of the residents are fairly independent. And we just have to help with small things, like picking out their clothes. Some people need total care where they have to be dressed, rolled, changed, use a mechanical lift.  If we have to use a mechanical lift  there has to be a minimum of two people to then get that person up and into their wheelchair. We’re supposed to chart at the same time as getting them ready, which is near impossible. And then we have an hour to feed them breakfast. Most times we don’t get into the dining room exactly when we’re supposed to. We’re usually late because there’s just so much care to be done and we don’t have enough people to do it. And then we have to feed them. We’re only supposed to feed two people at a time. So a lot of people have to wait to get their meal because we can only feed two people at a time. After breakfast, we would have to take them back to their rooms. If we can, get a break in. And then you would start toileting residents. Helping, taking them to activities, changing them. Some people lay down for a nap. Finish some baths. And then you would get people back up, toilet people, and then we’d go for lunch, and feed them lunch, the same thing. And then we have like an hour to get people out of the dining room and then back to the rooms, toilet them, change them, lay them down for a nap, if they need to have a nap, and try to chart and get everything done at the same time.   [ARSHY] Lisa Burke says that her home is always understaffed. And when they ask for more help, management tells them that they don’t have enough funding.    [BURKE] We don’t have enough staff at all to give any of the residents the type of care they need and deserve.   [ARSHY] Zaid Noorsumar is a labour reporter who’s been covering long-term care workers. And he says that, even as the care needs of long-term residents have been growing, staff aren’t getting more of the resources they need.   [ZAID NOORSUMAR] Residents coming into long-term care now have increasingly complex needs and they require a higher level of care, while, at the same time, the staffing ratios have not kept up. They haven’t been increased in accordance with the acuity of patients. So that’s a big factor, and what that means is that staff are constantly rushing. They’re running around. They don’t have the time to spend with residents.   [BURKE] People think that we get paid this giant amount of money and that we’re lazy because we’re complaining that we don’t have enough time or the manpower to do the work. I don’t think they know how physically, mentally, emotionally draining the job actually is.   [ARSHY] Joanna Bulatao agrees. She’s a registered practical nurse at Villa Leonardo Gambin, the same facility that Joedel Concepcion works at.    [JOANNA BULATAO] A lot of our staff, they’re constantly, like… Overwork themselves or, like, they really give their all when they’re providing, like, care to our residents. And it gets very, very tiring, like, especially during now. It does get exhausting. It’s not that we don’t want to provide care. It’s just that we become so drained because we want to help.   [ARSHY] And long-term care workers form close personal bonds with the people they take care of.   [NOORSUMAR] They think of residents as their family members, and they really feel they–they want to provide the best care that they can. In fact, one of the workers that I spoke with, who used to be in home care… I think now she works long-term care. She said, “Mentally, it’s a very draining job. You get attached to your client and then you get frustrated because you know the need for care but they aren’t getting it. Most of us PSWs are the type that, if the client’s having a bad day, it’s hard not to take that with you. And she said, after years and years of not being able to provide health care, she was burned out and she quit. She said, “I started my car and I started crying and I couldn’t stop.” And that’s the day she quit.   [ARSHY] All of the workers we spoke to said the same thing: the people they care for become like family to them.   [BURKE] Even when we have a person who becomes palliative or passes away, a part of us goes with them, too. Like, a lot of the time we’re in the room with them, or with the family. We’re crying with the family. Or even if they’re alone, we’re with them, holding them, as they take their last breath. Like, it’s… It’s like losing a part of your family.    [BULATAO] I think people don’t really realize that, like, when you’re with the same residents, they kind of become like a part of you. Like, they become, like, your–your family. That’s–that’s who we’re taking care of. We’re taking care of them just like we would our grandparents.   PART TWO [ARSHY] Joadel Concepcion, who you heard at the top of the show, came to Canada from the Philippines in 1995. She first worked as a nanny and then took some courses and became a registered nurse. Soon, she was working in long-term care. And, since 2004, she’s been working at Villa Leonardo Gambin, a long-term care home in Woodbridge, Ontario. The home was built for the nearby Italian community, so in order to be able to care for the residents, Jodel’s learned as much Italian as she could.   [CONCEPCION] So you have to encourage them and say… [speaking Italian]   [ARSHY] Villa Leonardo Gambin is technically a non-profit home, but it’s run by Sienna, one of the largest for-profit long-term care providers. The home would have pandemic preparedness training every year and Joadel was one of the people tasked with ensuring that people’s masks fit properly. By early March of this year, Joadel was getting more and more worried about COVID-19. She’d had family members who had gotten SARS, and she knew how scary things could get. And she says that, early on, it became clear that the staff weren’t going to get the proper personal protective equipment. By mid-March, the doctor who used to come do rounds refused to enter the building.     [CONCEPCION] They don’t do rounds in the building because they know that the administrator is not giving him PPE. Dr. Bujon will only do OTN with me using my cell phone to see his patients from the middle of March, or almost third week of March.   [ARSHY] By the weekend of March 27th, some of the residents on Joadel’s floor started coming down with COVID-19 symptoms, like fevers and coughs. And the staff started to ask management for masks.    [CONCEPCION] When are they giving us mass? This resident is coughing. We don’t have enough masks. We’re talking about surgical masks, okay? She says, “I gave you guys. If you finish it, that’s your problem.” That’s always her comment. Everybody knew that.    [ARSHY] And because Joadel is the union steward, staff started to come to her, saying that they were short on PPE. But Joadel says that when she took those concerns to management, they were just brushed off.   [CONCEPCION] What? Did I told you to talk to me? I told her to talk to me. Why she’s telling you? I said, no, she’s telling me now, because I’m the union steward. It’s my responsibility to follow up. So then she says, “Well, the public health say that you have to wear masks.”   [ARSHY] A spokesperson for Sienna denied that staff at Villa Leonardo Gambin were ever told not to wear PPE, especially when they were supporting residents displaying respiratory flu-like symptoms. Over the next few days, a number of residents started to experience upper respiratory issues, a telltale COVID-19 symptom.    [CONCEPCION] And some staff, they put on their own from their home. They would get mad at you.   [ARSHY] Joadel says that the message from management was clear. Because Public Health Ontario had yet to mandate it, no one had to wear a mask. And so they weren’t going to be provided any. Joanna Bulatao says that it was very difficult for staff members to get PPE.   [BULATAO] I don’t think that they were prepared for that to spread to other floors, because when it did, it didn’t really feel, like, that we had as much supplies and they felt like we were, like, pulling teeth to get, like, the supplies because we were running low in the home.   [ARSHY] The staff continued to work in close proximity to each other and to provide bedside care. And all the while, residents were moving around the facility.    [CONCEPCION] They’re in the rooms, but they come out. They’re wandering. What are you going to do, tie them on their beds? You’re going to lose your job.   [ARSHY] On March 28, Joadel says that managers asked her to test a number of residents for COVID-19, even though it wasn’t her job. She wasn’t given the proper PPE, but she did it anyways. The next day, another nurse came down with a fever. And within a week, Joadel came down with one, too. That same day, she heard that one of the residents she had tested was now positive.  Within another week, Joadel Concepcion was in the emergency room at Scarborough Grace Hospital, convinced that she was going to die.    [CONCEPCION] I have a lot of diarrhea, vomiting, and so my potassium is low. My heart arrhythmia acted up. I developed congestive heart failure. I had COVID-19 pneumonia.   [ARSHY] Joadel prayed to God that she would survive and be able to spend time with her family.    [CONCEPCION] I’m not a perfect human being. Just give me another chance to live. I still want to see my son get married and have grandkids. And, you know, um, He has to give me another chance to live again. But you know, Arshy, I was… I was just praying. And I just prayed and I said, “God…” And you’re making me cry. [indistinct] It’s so sad.   [ARSHY] But during that time, she couldn’t help but feel betrayed. She had thought that her managers were her friends, that they looked out for her.   [CONCEPCION] I work… I worked with these managers for many years. And I… I… I’m not nobody to them. And then they… Just to give me the N95. They says there’s no supply.   [ARSHY] While she was sitting in that hospital bed recovering, Joedel was amazed by what she saw around her. The protocols, the protections in the hospital were nothing like  in long-term care.    [CONCEPCION] When I was in Scarborough Grace, they disinfect. They come to my room three times, the full shift, the whole day, to take the garbage. Do proper disinfection. They’re wearing double masks, one N95 and the surgical mask under facial, and double gowns, and three pairs of gloves. In long term care, you share everything. They don’t do proper disinfection from the beginning before the COVID. How about now?   [ARSHY] At least twelve residents of Villa Leonardo Gambin have died of COVID-19. And, according to Joadel, 31 employees, including herself, have been infected with the coronavirus. She says that the last staff member who got sick was on May 17the, a month and a half after the outbreak began.  We reached out to Sienna for comment about all of this, and, in an emailed statement, they said that throughout the pandemic, their highest priority has been to ensure the safety of their team members and residents. They say that they ensured ample supplies of PPE were available, including N95 masks, and that charge nurses have access to the residence’s storage room to ensure that team members can acquire new PPE at all times. According to Sienna, team members were encouraged to wear PPE provided by the home, instead of their own, to ensure it met the appropriate standard, and they thanked their team members for their heroic work and their ongoing dedication throughout this pandemic.   OUTRO [ARSHY] As the COVID-19 outbreak was sweeping through the long-term care facility where she worked, Joanna Bulatao was scared.   [BULATAO] It was horrible. <laughs> I mean, it’s like a whole internal battle with yourself because it’s like you want to go into work, you want to help yourself. You want to help your residents. Like, you want to be there and–and do your job. Like, you want to actually help them. But obviously, at the back of your mind, you’re always thinking, like, “Oh, my God, what if I get sick? Like, what if I bring this home to my family? What if I…” You know, “What if I… What if I’m a carrier?”   [ARSHY] And like so many of her colleagues, she became infected and had to stop coming into work.   [BULATAO] As a nurse, I want to be helping. I want to be there. I want to give as much as I can during, like, these difficult times. And knowing that I can’t, and knowing that as I want to, I can’t do anything about it. It’s really frustrating. And it really takes a toll on, like, mental health. And it’s just the worst feeling ever.   [ARSHY] But what got to her the most was that so many of the people she was charged with caring for are now dead. She was stationed on the floor that lost the most residents.     [BULATAO] It was honestly the hardest thing. When I found out that, like, residents were starting to pass on a unit, it was… Either I was breaking down on–on the phone when someone was telling me or I was trying to, like, hold it together. And, it’s just because you build that relationship with them. You remember all of the memories that you have with them. And then to just think that, like, “Oh, well, that’s all you have now, are just memories.” It’s… It’s very hard. Very hard.   [ARSHY] Lisa Burke was lucky enough to not become infected with the coronavirus. But she is frustrated by the state of long-term care. And she thinks enough is enough.    [BURKE] We’ve been… Us, like, in the union, have been yelling, like, “We need more help, we need more staff, we need more of this.” Like, you guys need to come in and regulate more things. And I just think it’s–it’s very, very sad that a pandemic has to show the world what we’ve been shouting for many, many years now.  We are the backbone of the healthcare system, and a lot of people just don’t see the hard work and the dedication of long-term care employees.   END CREDITS [ARSHY] That’s your episode of Commons for the week. If you want to support us, click on the link in your show notes or go to commonspodcast.com This episode relied on work done by Naomi Lightman, Zaid Noorsumar, Tamara Daly, Pat Armstrong and Nora Loreto. If you want to get in touch with us, you can tweet at us at @COMMONSpod. You can also email me, Arshy@canadalandshow.com This episode was produced by me and Jordan Cornish, with additional production by Tiffany Lam. Our managing editor is Andréa Schmidt. And our music is by Nathan Burley.  If you like what we do, please help us make this show. Click on the link in your shownotes or go to commonspodcast.com   I think you should be getting our newsletterGet a weekly note about our top stories.This is a good thing that we do. You'll like this.johnsmith@example.comSign UpForm is being submitted, please wait a bit.Please fill out all required fields.
April 18, 2017
73
That’s Why We Live In A Democracy
Support us at commonspodcast.com Long-term care workers are in the vanguard in the war against COVID-19. They’re not the kinds of workers who get movies or TV shows made about them. In fact, their stories are rarely told. But not only are they battling heroically against this pandemic. They’re fighting for recognition and respect within a system built to marginalize them.  COMMONS: Pandemic is currently focusing on how COVID-19 is affecting long-term care in Canada.   Featured in this episode: Joadel Concepcion, Joanna Bulatao, Lisa Burke, Naomi Lightman, Zaid Noorsumar To learn more: “‘We are dropping like flies,’ says Ontario home care nurse” by Zaid Noorsumar in Rank and File “Fear and exhaustion: Working as a PSW in long-term care during the coronavirus” by Alanna Mitchell in Maclean’s “Comparing Care Regimes: Worker Characteristics and Wage Penalties in the Global Care Chain” by Naomi Lightman in Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State & Society   This episode is sponsored by Freshbooks Additional music from Audio Network   TRANSCRIPT:    EPISODE 7 – “THE FRONTLINE”   COLD OPEN [ARSHY MANN] Joadel Concepcion’s been working as a registered nurse in long-term care for almost two decades. And she remembers the last time things seemed this frightening. It was 2003. That was when a different coronavirus was sweeping the world, causing Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or “SARS” for short.    [JOADEL CONCEPCION] During SARS time there is a lot of nurses <indistinct> got sick. Even my sister-in-law, she got sick. We have that fear. Why am I going to have this stress again? We don’t know.   [ARSHY] So when she started feeling feverish in early April, Joadel went out to get tested right away.   [CONCEPCION] My first symptoms started on a Saturday, which is April four. I went right away to Scarborough Grace to get tested. And then when I came back home, I had a little bit of OCD for even from SRS time. So when–when I came home, I took a shower because I thought the fever will just subside.   [ARSHY] But the fever didn’t subside. Instead, the symptoms started to get more intense.   [CONCEPCION] I was coughing. I was vomiting. When my husband give me the food, like… I don’t have an appetite. I don’t smell it and I don’t taste it.   [ARSHY] For a few days, Joadel stayed at home, trying to get rest and stay hydrated. But by April 8, she was having trouble breathing.    [CONCEPCION] My airway’s blocked. I can’t breathe. You want to like raise your chest or trying to catch the air, but you can’t. That’s how I feel.   [ARSHY] She asked her son to drive her to Scarborough Grace Hospital. And when they got to the emergency room, a man was outside screening people and asking them questions.   [CONCEPCION] He was saying, “I have to screen you.” I said, “No, don’t screen me.” And I feel like I’m going to die. I can’t breathe.   [ARSHY] The man tried to determine whether she should come wait in the emergency room.   [CONCEPCION] And I can tell my son and my husband are crying. Yelling at them, “Don’t come near me. Don’t come near me.” So I said to one of the staff, I said, “I’m gonna pass out. Please help me. I have COVID. I’m an RN and I work in long-term care.” That’s all I said. And then they took me right away   [ARSHY] They put her on oxygen. But then they realized she was developing congestive heart failure. So they gave her injections, antibiotics, anti-clotting agents… Luckily, Joadel had gotten there in time. She didn’t die. She’s now out of the hospital and fully recovered.  But a lot of people haven’t been so lucky. Since the beginning of the pandemic, thousands of long-term care workers have come down with COVID-19. And 16 of them have died. I’m Arshy Mann, and from CANADALAND, this is Commons.   PART ONE [ARSHY] In stories about long-term care, the workers are often left out of the picture. It’s the nurses, the personal support workers and so many others in these facilities that really have been on the front-line of this pandemic. But they’re work isn’t viewed as sexy or captivating. After all, people don’t make TV shows or movies about long-term care, like they do with hospitals.  And compared to their counterparts in emergency rooms and critical care units, their frontline labour is often devalued.    [NAOMI LIGHTMAN] And they’re often what we refer to as the three “D”s. So, jobs that are dirty, difficult, and, especially during times of a health pandemic, highly dangerous. My name is Naomi Lightman and I’m an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Calgary. My research focuses on the intersection between gender, migration, race and care work.   [ARSHY] According to her research, it’s clear that these jobs, especially personal support workers who provide a big chunk of the day-to-day care, are occupied by specific kinds of people.    [LIGHTMAN] So this is overwhelmingly a female workforce and it’s very much racialized. When we talk just broadly about racialized women, it doesn’t actually capture it. It’s really specifically two groups that we’re talking about. We’re talking about black women and Filipino women who are, in the case of black women, over two times as likely as white women to be working in these jobs and with Filipino women over three times as likely.   [ARSHY] And the people working in these types of positions are also much more likely to be recent immigrants.    [LIGHTMAN] So, when we look at personal support workers or people working specifically in long term care institutions, these are, in fact, among the most precarious and the lowest wage workers, especially in private institutions.  When we compare them to just the average worker and we’re still controlling for factors like their education and their family structure… So holding these factors constant, we see that there is a 40 percent wage penalty for low-skill care work.   [ARSHY] Naomi Lightman says that this is because caring for people has historically been viewed as, quote-unquote, women’s work.    [LIGHTMAN] And I think as this kind of work has entered the paid labor force, we’ve continued to view it through a lens of work that doesn’t really matter or doesn’t hold the same value to other types of paid work. So, we rely on women who are coming from the Global South to do this work that we don’t want to do, and we continue to view it as labor that doesn’t hold the same value as other kinds of work.   [ARSHY] Lisa Burke is a personal support worker at peopleCare Oakcrossing, a long-term care facility in London, Ontario. Here’s what a typical day looks like for her.    [LISA BURKE] I work straight day-shifts. I work 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. When we get to our unit, we have to come a few minutes early to get a report. There’s usually three to four staff to 32 residents.  We get report. They tell us if there’s anybody who’s been hospitalized, any changes, any med changes, any behaviors, any falls, anything like that. We have two hours to get the 32 residents up, dressed, bathed, hairbrush, teeth in, and into the dining room to be fed for breakfast. Some of these residents are aggressive. Some of the residents are fairly independent. And we just have to help with small things, like picking out their clothes. Some people need total care where they have to be dressed, rolled, changed, use a mechanical lift.  If we have to use a mechanical lift  there has to be a minimum of two people to then get that person up and into their wheelchair. We’re supposed to chart at the same time as getting them ready, which is near impossible. And then we have an hour to feed them breakfast. Most times we don’t get into the dining room exactly when we’re supposed to. We’re usually late because there’s just so much care to be done and we don’t have enough people to do it. And then we have to feed them. We’re only supposed to feed two people at a time. So a lot of people have to wait to get their meal because we can only feed two people at a time. After breakfast, we would have to take them back to their rooms. If we can, get a break in. And then you would start toileting residents. Helping, taking them to activities, changing them. Some people lay down for a nap. Finish some baths. And then you would get people back up, toilet people, and then we’d go for lunch, and feed them lunch, the same thing. And then we have like an hour to get people out of the dining room and then back to the rooms, toilet them, change them, lay them down for a nap, if they need to have a nap, and try to chart and get everything done at the same time.   [ARSHY] Lisa Burke says that her home is always understaffed. And when they ask for more help, management tells them that they don’t have enough funding.    [BURKE] We don’t have enough staff at all to give any of the residents the type of care they need and deserve.   [ARSHY] Zaid Noorsumar is a labour reporter who’s been covering long-term care workers. And he says that, even as the care needs of long-term residents have been growing, staff aren’t getting more of the resources they need.   [ZAID NOORSUMAR] Residents coming into long-term care now have increasingly complex needs and they require a higher level of care, while, at the same time, the staffing ratios have not kept up. They haven’t been increased in accordance with the acuity of patients. So that’s a big factor, and what that means is that staff are constantly rushing. They’re running around. They don’t have the time to spend with residents.   [BURKE] People think that we get paid this giant amount of money and that we’re lazy because we’re complaining that we don’t have enough time or the manpower to do the work. I don’t think they know how physically, mentally, emotionally draining the job actually is.   [ARSHY] Joanna Bulatao agrees. She’s a registered practical nurse at Villa Leonardo Gambin, the same facility that Joedel Concepcion works at.    [JOANNA BULATAO] A lot of our staff, they’re constantly, like… Overwork themselves or, like, they really give their all when they’re providing, like, care to our residents. And it gets very, very tiring, like, especially during now. It does get exhausting. It’s not that we don’t want to provide care. It’s just that we become so drained because we want to help.   [ARSHY] And long-term care workers form close personal bonds with the people they take care of.   [NOORSUMAR] They think of residents as their family members, and they really feel they–they want to provide the best care that they can. In fact, one of the workers that I spoke with, who used to be in home care… I think now she works long-term care. She said, “Mentally, it’s a very draining job. You get attached to your client and then you get frustrated because you know the need for care but they aren’t getting it. Most of us PSWs are the type that, if the client’s having a bad day, it’s hard not to take that with you. And she said, after years and years of not being able to provide health care, she was burned out and she quit. She said, “I started my car and I started crying and I couldn’t stop.” And that’s the day she quit.   [ARSHY] All of the workers we spoke to said the same thing: the people they care for become like family to them.   [BURKE] Even when we have a person who becomes palliative or passes away, a part of us goes with them, too. Like, a lot of the time we’re in the room with them, or with the family. We’re crying with the family. Or even if they’re alone, we’re with them, holding them, as they take their last breath. Like, it’s… It’s like losing a part of your family.    [BULATAO] I think people don’t really realize that, like, when you’re with the same residents, they kind of become like a part of you. Like, they become, like, your–your family. That’s–that’s who we’re taking care of. We’re taking care of them just like we would our grandparents.   PART TWO [ARSHY] Joadel Concepcion, who you heard at the top of the show, came to Canada from the Philippines in 1995. She first worked as a nanny and then took some courses and became a registered nurse. Soon, she was working in long-term care. And, since 2004, she’s been working at Villa Leonardo Gambin, a long-term care home in Woodbridge, Ontario. The home was built for the nearby Italian community, so in order to be able to care for the residents, Jodel’s learned as much Italian as she could.   [CONCEPCION] So you have to encourage them and say… [speaking Italian]   [ARSHY] Villa Leonardo Gambin is technically a non-profit home, but it’s run by Sienna, one of the largest for-profit long-term care providers. The home would have pandemic preparedness training every year and Joadel was one of the people tasked with ensuring that people’s masks fit properly. By early March of this year, Joadel was getting more and more worried about COVID-19. She’d had family members who had gotten SARS, and she knew how scary things could get. And she says that, early on, it became clear that the staff weren’t going to get the proper personal protective equipment. By mid-March, the doctor who used to come do rounds refused to enter the building.     [CONCEPCION] They don’t do rounds in the building because they know that the administrator is not giving him PPE. Dr. Bujon will only do OTN with me using my cell phone to see his patients from the middle of March, or almost third week of March.   [ARSHY] By the weekend of March 27th, some of the residents on Joadel’s floor started coming down with COVID-19 symptoms, like fevers and coughs. And the staff started to ask management for masks.    [CONCEPCION] When are they giving us mass? This resident is coughing. We don’t have enough masks. We’re talking about surgical masks, okay? She says, “I gave you guys. If you finish it, that’s your problem.” That’s always her comment. Everybody knew that.    [ARSHY] And because Joadel is the union steward, staff started to come to her, saying that they were short on PPE. But Joadel says that when she took those concerns to management, they were just brushed off.   [CONCEPCION] What? Did I told you to talk to me? I told her to talk to me. Why she’s telling you? I said, no, she’s telling me now, because I’m the union steward. It’s my responsibility to follow up. So then she says, “Well, the public health say that you have to wear masks.”   [ARSHY] A spokesperson for Sienna denied that staff at Villa Leonardo Gambin were ever told not to wear PPE, especially when they were supporting residents displaying respiratory flu-like symptoms. Over the next few days, a number of residents started to experience upper respiratory issues, a telltale COVID-19 symptom.    [CONCEPCION] And some staff, they put on their own from their home. They would get mad at you.   [ARSHY] Joadel says that the message from management was clear. Because Public Health Ontario had yet to mandate it, no one had to wear a mask. And so they weren’t going to be provided any. Joanna Bulatao says that it was very difficult for staff members to get PPE.   [BULATAO] I don’t think that they were prepared for that to spread to other floors, because when it did, it didn’t really feel, like, that we had as much supplies and they felt like we were, like, pulling teeth to get, like, the supplies because we were running low in the home.   [ARSHY] The staff continued to work in close proximity to each other and to provide bedside care. And all the while, residents were moving around the facility.    [CONCEPCION] They’re in the rooms, but they come out. They’re wandering. What are you going to do, tie them on their beds? You’re going to lose your job.   [ARSHY] On March 28, Joadel says that managers asked her to test a number of residents for COVID-19, even though it wasn’t her job. She wasn’t given the proper PPE, but she did it anyways. The next day, another nurse came down with a fever. And within a week, Joadel came down with one, too. That same day, she heard that one of the residents she had tested was now positive.  Within another week, Joadel Concepcion was in the emergency room at Scarborough Grace Hospital, convinced that she was going to die.    [CONCEPCION] I have a lot of diarrhea, vomiting, and so my potassium is low. My heart arrhythmia acted up. I developed congestive heart failure. I had COVID-19 pneumonia.   [ARSHY] Joadel prayed to God that she would survive and be able to spend time with her family.    [CONCEPCION] I’m not a perfect human being. Just give me another chance to live. I still want to see my son get married and have grandkids. And, you know, um, He has to give me another chance to live again. But you know, Arshy, I was… I was just praying. And I just prayed and I said, “God…” And you’re making me cry. [indistinct] It’s so sad.   [ARSHY] But during that time, she couldn’t help but feel betrayed. She had thought that her managers were her friends, that they looked out for her.   [CONCEPCION] I work… I worked with these managers for many years. And I… I… I’m not nobody to them. And then they… Just to give me the N95. They says there’s no supply.   [ARSHY] While she was sitting in that hospital bed recovering, Joedel was amazed by what she saw around her. The protocols, the protections in the hospital were nothing like  in long-term care.    [CONCEPCION] When I was in Scarborough Grace, they disinfect. They come to my room three times, the full shift, the whole day, to take the garbage. Do proper disinfection. They’re wearing double masks, one N95 and the surgical mask under facial, and double gowns, and three pairs of gloves. In long term care, you share everything. They don’t do proper disinfection from the beginning before the COVID. How about now?   [ARSHY] At least twelve residents of Villa Leonardo Gambin have died of COVID-19. And, according to Joadel, 31 employees, including herself, have been infected with the coronavirus. She says that the last staff member who got sick was on May 17the, a month and a half after the outbreak began.  We reached out to Sienna for comment about all of this, and, in an emailed statement, they said that throughout the pandemic, their highest priority has been to ensure the safety of their team members and residents. They say that they ensured ample supplies of PPE were available, including N95 masks, and that charge nurses have access to the residence’s storage room to ensure that team members can acquire new PPE at all times. According to Sienna, team members were encouraged to wear PPE provided by the home, instead of their own, to ensure it met the appropriate standard, and they thanked their team members for their heroic work and their ongoing dedication throughout this pandemic.   OUTRO [ARSHY] As the COVID-19 outbreak was sweeping through the long-term care facility where she worked, Joanna Bulatao was scared.   [BULATAO] It was horrible. <laughs> I mean, it’s like a whole internal battle with yourself because it’s like you want to go into work, you want to help yourself. You want to help your residents. Like, you want to be there and–and do your job. Like, you want to actually help them. But obviously, at the back of your mind, you’re always thinking, like, “Oh, my God, what if I get sick? Like, what if I bring this home to my family? What if I…” You know, “What if I… What if I’m a carrier?”   [ARSHY] And like so many of her colleagues, she became infected and had to stop coming into work.   [BULATAO] As a nurse, I want to be helping. I want to be there. I want to give as much as I can during, like, these difficult times. And knowing that I can’t, and knowing that as I want to, I can’t do anything about it. It’s really frustrating. And it really takes a toll on, like, mental health. And it’s just the worst feeling ever.   [ARSHY] But what got to her the most was that so many of the people she was charged with caring for are now dead. She was stationed on the floor that lost the most residents.     [BULATAO] It was honestly the hardest thing. When I found out that, like, residents were starting to pass on a unit, it was… Either I was breaking down on–on the phone when someone was telling me or I was trying to, like, hold it together. And, it’s just because you build that relationship with them. You remember all of the memories that you have with them. And then to just think that, like, “Oh, well, that’s all you have now, are just memories.” It’s… It’s very hard. Very hard.   [ARSHY] Lisa Burke was lucky enough to not become infected with the coronavirus. But she is frustrated by the state of long-term care. And she thinks enough is enough.    [BURKE] We’ve been… Us, like, in the union, have been yelling, like, “We need more help, we need more staff, we need more of this.” Like, you guys need to come in and regulate more things. And I just think it’s–it’s very, very sad that a pandemic has to show the world what we’ve been shouting for many, many years now.  We are the backbone of the healthcare system, and a lot of people just don’t see the hard work and the dedication of long-term care employees.   END CREDITS [ARSHY] That’s your episode of Commons for the week. If you want to support us, click on the link in your show notes or go to commonspodcast.com This episode relied on work done by Naomi Lightman, Zaid Noorsumar, Tamara Daly, Pat Armstrong and Nora Loreto. If you want to get in touch with us, you can tweet at us at @COMMONSpod. You can also email me, Arshy@canadalandshow.com This episode was produced by me and Jordan Cornish, with additional production by Tiffany Lam. Our managing editor is Andréa Schmidt. And our music is by Nathan Burley.  If you like what we do, please help us make this show. Click on the link in your shownotes or go to commonspodcast.com   I think you should be getting our newsletterGet a weekly note about our top stories.This is a good thing that we do. You'll like this.johnsmith@example.comSign UpForm is being submitted, please wait a bit.Please fill out all required fields.
May 2, 2017
74
Cultural Appropriation Is An Inherently Political Act
Support us at commonspodcast.com Long-term care workers are in the vanguard in the war against COVID-19. They’re not the kinds of workers who get movies or TV shows made about them. In fact, their stories are rarely told. But not only are they battling heroically against this pandemic. They’re fighting for recognition and respect within a system built to marginalize them.  COMMONS: Pandemic is currently focusing on how COVID-19 is affecting long-term care in Canada.   Featured in this episode: Joadel Concepcion, Joanna Bulatao, Lisa Burke, Naomi Lightman, Zaid Noorsumar To learn more: “‘We are dropping like flies,’ says Ontario home care nurse” by Zaid Noorsumar in Rank and File “Fear and exhaustion: Working as a PSW in long-term care during the coronavirus” by Alanna Mitchell in Maclean’s “Comparing Care Regimes: Worker Characteristics and Wage Penalties in the Global Care Chain” by Naomi Lightman in Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State & Society   This episode is sponsored by Freshbooks Additional music from Audio Network   TRANSCRIPT:    EPISODE 7 – “THE FRONTLINE”   COLD OPEN [ARSHY MANN] Joadel Concepcion’s been working as a registered nurse in long-term care for almost two decades. And she remembers the last time things seemed this frightening. It was 2003. That was when a different coronavirus was sweeping the world, causing Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or “SARS” for short.    [JOADEL CONCEPCION] During SARS time there is a lot of nurses <indistinct> got sick. Even my sister-in-law, she got sick. We have that fear. Why am I going to have this stress again? We don’t know.   [ARSHY] So when she started feeling feverish in early April, Joadel went out to get tested right away.   [CONCEPCION] My first symptoms started on a Saturday, which is April four. I went right away to Scarborough Grace to get tested. And then when I came back home, I had a little bit of OCD for even from SRS time. So when–when I came home, I took a shower because I thought the fever will just subside.   [ARSHY] But the fever didn’t subside. Instead, the symptoms started to get more intense.   [CONCEPCION] I was coughing. I was vomiting. When my husband give me the food, like… I don’t have an appetite. I don’t smell it and I don’t taste it.   [ARSHY] For a few days, Joadel stayed at home, trying to get rest and stay hydrated. But by April 8, she was having trouble breathing.    [CONCEPCION] My airway’s blocked. I can’t breathe. You want to like raise your chest or trying to catch the air, but you can’t. That’s how I feel.   [ARSHY] She asked her son to drive her to Scarborough Grace Hospital. And when they got to the emergency room, a man was outside screening people and asking them questions.   [CONCEPCION] He was saying, “I have to screen you.” I said, “No, don’t screen me.” And I feel like I’m going to die. I can’t breathe.   [ARSHY] The man tried to determine whether she should come wait in the emergency room.   [CONCEPCION] And I can tell my son and my husband are crying. Yelling at them, “Don’t come near me. Don’t come near me.” So I said to one of the staff, I said, “I’m gonna pass out. Please help me. I have COVID. I’m an RN and I work in long-term care.” That’s all I said. And then they took me right away   [ARSHY] They put her on oxygen. But then they realized she was developing congestive heart failure. So they gave her injections, antibiotics, anti-clotting agents… Luckily, Joadel had gotten there in time. She didn’t die. She’s now out of the hospital and fully recovered.  But a lot of people haven’t been so lucky. Since the beginning of the pandemic, thousands of long-term care workers have come down with COVID-19. And 16 of them have died. I’m Arshy Mann, and from CANADALAND, this is Commons.   PART ONE [ARSHY] In stories about long-term care, the workers are often left out of the picture. It’s the nurses, the personal support workers and so many others in these facilities that really have been on the front-line of this pandemic. But they’re work isn’t viewed as sexy or captivating. After all, people don’t make TV shows or movies about long-term care, like they do with hospitals.  And compared to their counterparts in emergency rooms and critical care units, their frontline labour is often devalued.    [NAOMI LIGHTMAN] And they’re often what we refer to as the three “D”s. So, jobs that are dirty, difficult, and, especially during times of a health pandemic, highly dangerous. My name is Naomi Lightman and I’m an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Calgary. My research focuses on the intersection between gender, migration, race and care work.   [ARSHY] According to her research, it’s clear that these jobs, especially personal support workers who provide a big chunk of the day-to-day care, are occupied by specific kinds of people.    [LIGHTMAN] So this is overwhelmingly a female workforce and it’s very much racialized. When we talk just broadly about racialized women, it doesn’t actually capture it. It’s really specifically two groups that we’re talking about. We’re talking about black women and Filipino women who are, in the case of black women, over two times as likely as white women to be working in these jobs and with Filipino women over three times as likely.   [ARSHY] And the people working in these types of positions are also much more likely to be recent immigrants.    [LIGHTMAN] So, when we look at personal support workers or people working specifically in long term care institutions, these are, in fact, among the most precarious and the lowest wage workers, especially in private institutions.  When we compare them to just the average worker and we’re still controlling for factors like their education and their family structure… So holding these factors constant, we see that there is a 40 percent wage penalty for low-skill care work.   [ARSHY] Naomi Lightman says that this is because caring for people has historically been viewed as, quote-unquote, women’s work.    [LIGHTMAN] And I think as this kind of work has entered the paid labor force, we’ve continued to view it through a lens of work that doesn’t really matter or doesn’t hold the same value to other types of paid work. So, we rely on women who are coming from the Global South to do this work that we don’t want to do, and we continue to view it as labor that doesn’t hold the same value as other kinds of work.   [ARSHY] Lisa Burke is a personal support worker at peopleCare Oakcrossing, a long-term care facility in London, Ontario. Here’s what a typical day looks like for her.    [LISA BURKE] I work straight day-shifts. I work 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. When we get to our unit, we have to come a few minutes early to get a report. There’s usually three to four staff to 32 residents.  We get report. They tell us if there’s anybody who’s been hospitalized, any changes, any med changes, any behaviors, any falls, anything like that. We have two hours to get the 32 residents up, dressed, bathed, hairbrush, teeth in, and into the dining room to be fed for breakfast. Some of these residents are aggressive. Some of the residents are fairly independent. And we just have to help with small things, like picking out their clothes. Some people need total care where they have to be dressed, rolled, changed, use a mechanical lift.  If we have to use a mechanical lift  there has to be a minimum of two people to then get that person up and into their wheelchair. We’re supposed to chart at the same time as getting them ready, which is near impossible. And then we have an hour to feed them breakfast. Most times we don’t get into the dining room exactly when we’re supposed to. We’re usually late because there’s just so much care to be done and we don’t have enough people to do it. And then we have to feed them. We’re only supposed to feed two people at a time. So a lot of people have to wait to get their meal because we can only feed two people at a time. After breakfast, we would have to take them back to their rooms. If we can, get a break in. And then you would start toileting residents. Helping, taking them to activities, changing them. Some people lay down for a nap. Finish some baths. And then you would get people back up, toilet people, and then we’d go for lunch, and feed them lunch, the same thing. And then we have like an hour to get people out of the dining room and then back to the rooms, toilet them, change them, lay them down for a nap, if they need to have a nap, and try to chart and get everything done at the same time.   [ARSHY] Lisa Burke says that her home is always understaffed. And when they ask for more help, management tells them that they don’t have enough funding.    [BURKE] We don’t have enough staff at all to give any of the residents the type of care they need and deserve.   [ARSHY] Zaid Noorsumar is a labour reporter who’s been covering long-term care workers. And he says that, even as the care needs of long-term residents have been growing, staff aren’t getting more of the resources they need.   [ZAID NOORSUMAR] Residents coming into long-term care now have increasingly complex needs and they require a higher level of care, while, at the same time, the staffing ratios have not kept up. They haven’t been increased in accordance with the acuity of patients. So that’s a big factor, and what that means is that staff are constantly rushing. They’re running around. They don’t have the time to spend with residents.   [BURKE] People think that we get paid this giant amount of money and that we’re lazy because we’re complaining that we don’t have enough time or the manpower to do the work. I don’t think they know how physically, mentally, emotionally draining the job actually is.   [ARSHY] Joanna Bulatao agrees. She’s a registered practical nurse at Villa Leonardo Gambin, the same facility that Joedel Concepcion works at.    [JOANNA BULATAO] A lot of our staff, they’re constantly, like… Overwork themselves or, like, they really give their all when they’re providing, like, care to our residents. And it gets very, very tiring, like, especially during now. It does get exhausting. It’s not that we don’t want to provide care. It’s just that we become so drained because we want to help.   [ARSHY] And long-term care workers form close personal bonds with the people they take care of.   [NOORSUMAR] They think of residents as their family members, and they really feel they–they want to provide the best care that they can. In fact, one of the workers that I spoke with, who used to be in home care… I think now she works long-term care. She said, “Mentally, it’s a very draining job. You get attached to your client and then you get frustrated because you know the need for care but they aren’t getting it. Most of us PSWs are the type that, if the client’s having a bad day, it’s hard not to take that with you. And she said, after years and years of not being able to provide health care, she was burned out and she quit. She said, “I started my car and I started crying and I couldn’t stop.” And that’s the day she quit.   [ARSHY] All of the workers we spoke to said the same thing: the people they care for become like family to them.   [BURKE] Even when we have a person who becomes palliative or passes away, a part of us goes with them, too. Like, a lot of the time we’re in the room with them, or with the family. We’re crying with the family. Or even if they’re alone, we’re with them, holding them, as they take their last breath. Like, it’s… It’s like losing a part of your family.    [BULATAO] I think people don’t really realize that, like, when you’re with the same residents, they kind of become like a part of you. Like, they become, like, your–your family. That’s–that’s who we’re taking care of. We’re taking care of them just like we would our grandparents.   PART TWO [ARSHY] Joadel Concepcion, who you heard at the top of the show, came to Canada from the Philippines in 1995. She first worked as a nanny and then took some courses and became a registered nurse. Soon, she was working in long-term care. And, since 2004, she’s been working at Villa Leonardo Gambin, a long-term care home in Woodbridge, Ontario. The home was built for the nearby Italian community, so in order to be able to care for the residents, Jodel’s learned as much Italian as she could.   [CONCEPCION] So you have to encourage them and say… [speaking Italian]   [ARSHY] Villa Leonardo Gambin is technically a non-profit home, but it’s run by Sienna, one of the largest for-profit long-term care providers. The home would have pandemic preparedness training every year and Joadel was one of the people tasked with ensuring that people’s masks fit properly. By early March of this year, Joadel was getting more and more worried about COVID-19. She’d had family members who had gotten SARS, and she knew how scary things could get. And she says that, early on, it became clear that the staff weren’t going to get the proper personal protective equipment. By mid-March, the doctor who used to come do rounds refused to enter the building.     [CONCEPCION] They don’t do rounds in the building because they know that the administrator is not giving him PPE. Dr. Bujon will only do OTN with me using my cell phone to see his patients from the middle of March, or almost third week of March.   [ARSHY] By the weekend of March 27th, some of the residents on Joadel’s floor started coming down with COVID-19 symptoms, like fevers and coughs. And the staff started to ask management for masks.    [CONCEPCION] When are they giving us mass? This resident is coughing. We don’t have enough masks. We’re talking about surgical masks, okay? She says, “I gave you guys. If you finish it, that’s your problem.” That’s always her comment. Everybody knew that.    [ARSHY] And because Joadel is the union steward, staff started to come to her, saying that they were short on PPE. But Joadel says that when she took those concerns to management, they were just brushed off.   [CONCEPCION] What? Did I told you to talk to me? I told her to talk to me. Why she’s telling you? I said, no, she’s telling me now, because I’m the union steward. It’s my responsibility to follow up. So then she says, “Well, the public health say that you have to wear masks.”   [ARSHY] A spokesperson for Sienna denied that staff at Villa Leonardo Gambin were ever told not to wear PPE, especially when they were supporting residents displaying respiratory flu-like symptoms. Over the next few days, a number of residents started to experience upper respiratory issues, a telltale COVID-19 symptom.    [CONCEPCION] And some staff, they put on their own from their home. They would get mad at you.   [ARSHY] Joadel says that the message from management was clear. Because Public Health Ontario had yet to mandate it, no one had to wear a mask. And so they weren’t going to be provided any. Joanna Bulatao says that it was very difficult for staff members to get PPE.   [BULATAO] I don’t think that they were prepared for that to spread to other floors, because when it did, it didn’t really feel, like, that we had as much supplies and they felt like we were, like, pulling teeth to get, like, the supplies because we were running low in the home.   [ARSHY] The staff continued to work in close proximity to each other and to provide bedside care. And all the while, residents were moving around the facility.    [CONCEPCION] They’re in the rooms, but they come out. They’re wandering. What are you going to do, tie them on their beds? You’re going to lose your job.   [ARSHY] On March 28, Joadel says that managers asked her to test a number of residents for COVID-19, even though it wasn’t her job. She wasn’t given the proper PPE, but she did it anyways. The next day, another nurse came down with a fever. And within a week, Joadel came down with one, too. That same day, she heard that one of the residents she had tested was now positive.  Within another week, Joadel Concepcion was in the emergency room at Scarborough Grace Hospital, convinced that she was going to die.    [CONCEPCION] I have a lot of diarrhea, vomiting, and so my potassium is low. My heart arrhythmia acted up. I developed congestive heart failure. I had COVID-19 pneumonia.   [ARSHY] Joadel prayed to God that she would survive and be able to spend time with her family.    [CONCEPCION] I’m not a perfect human being. Just give me another chance to live. I still want to see my son get married and have grandkids. And, you know, um, He has to give me another chance to live again. But you know, Arshy, I was… I was just praying. And I just prayed and I said, “God…” And you’re making me cry. [indistinct] It’s so sad.   [ARSHY] But during that time, she couldn’t help but feel betrayed. She had thought that her managers were her friends, that they looked out for her.   [CONCEPCION] I work… I worked with these managers for many years. And I… I… I’m not nobody to them. And then they… Just to give me the N95. They says there’s no supply.   [ARSHY] While she was sitting in that hospital bed recovering, Joedel was amazed by what she saw around her. The protocols, the protections in the hospital were nothing like  in long-term care.    [CONCEPCION] When I was in Scarborough Grace, they disinfect. They come to my room three times, the full shift, the whole day, to take the garbage. Do proper disinfection. They’re wearing double masks, one N95 and the surgical mask under facial, and double gowns, and three pairs of gloves. In long term care, you share everything. They don’t do proper disinfection from the beginning before the COVID. How about now?   [ARSHY] At least twelve residents of Villa Leonardo Gambin have died of COVID-19. And, according to Joadel, 31 employees, including herself, have been infected with the coronavirus. She says that the last staff member who got sick was on May 17the, a month and a half after the outbreak began.  We reached out to Sienna for comment about all of this, and, in an emailed statement, they said that throughout the pandemic, their highest priority has been to ensure the safety of their team members and residents. They say that they ensured ample supplies of PPE were available, including N95 masks, and that charge nurses have access to the residence’s storage room to ensure that team members can acquire new PPE at all times. According to Sienna, team members were encouraged to wear PPE provided by the home, instead of their own, to ensure it met the appropriate standard, and they thanked their team members for their heroic work and their ongoing dedication throughout this pandemic.   OUTRO [ARSHY] As the COVID-19 outbreak was sweeping through the long-term care facility where she worked, Joanna Bulatao was scared.   [BULATAO] It was horrible. <laughs> I mean, it’s like a whole internal battle with yourself because it’s like you want to go into work, you want to help yourself. You want to help your residents. Like, you want to be there and–and do your job. Like, you want to actually help them. But obviously, at the back of your mind, you’re always thinking, like, “Oh, my God, what if I get sick? Like, what if I bring this home to my family? What if I…” You know, “What if I… What if I’m a carrier?”   [ARSHY] And like so many of her colleagues, she became infected and had to stop coming into work.   [BULATAO] As a nurse, I want to be helping. I want to be there. I want to give as much as I can during, like, these difficult times. And knowing that I can’t, and knowing that as I want to, I can’t do anything about it. It’s really frustrating. And it really takes a toll on, like, mental health. And it’s just the worst feeling ever.   [ARSHY] But what got to her the most was that so many of the people she was charged with caring for are now dead. She was stationed on the floor that lost the most residents.     [BULATAO] It was honestly the hardest thing. When I found out that, like, residents were starting to pass on a unit, it was… Either I was breaking down on–on the phone when someone was telling me or I was trying to, like, hold it together. And, it’s just because you build that relationship with them. You remember all of the memories that you have with them. And then to just think that, like, “Oh, well, that’s all you have now, are just memories.” It’s… It’s very hard. Very hard.   [ARSHY] Lisa Burke was lucky enough to not become infected with the coronavirus. But she is frustrated by the state of long-term care. And she thinks enough is enough.    [BURKE] We’ve been… Us, like, in the union, have been yelling, like, “We need more help, we need more staff, we need more of this.” Like, you guys need to come in and regulate more things. And I just think it’s–it’s very, very sad that a pandemic has to show the world what we’ve been shouting for many, many years now.  We are the backbone of the healthcare system, and a lot of people just don’t see the hard work and the dedication of long-term care employees.   END CREDITS [ARSHY] That’s your episode of Commons for the week. If you want to support us, click on the link in your show notes or go to commonspodcast.com This episode relied on work done by Naomi Lightman, Zaid Noorsumar, Tamara Daly, Pat Armstrong and Nora Loreto. If you want to get in touch with us, you can tweet at us at @COMMONSpod. You can also email me, Arshy@canadalandshow.com This episode was produced by me and Jordan Cornish, with additional production by Tiffany Lam. Our managing editor is Andréa Schmidt. And our music is by Nathan Burley.  If you like what we do, please help us make this show. Click on the link in your shownotes or go to commonspodcast.com   I think you should be getting our newsletterGet a weekly note about our top stories.This is a good thing that we do. You'll like this.johnsmith@example.comSign UpForm is being submitted, please wait a bit.Please fill out all required fields.
May 16, 2017
75
Drink Like A Conservative
Support us at commonspodcast.com Long-term care workers are in the vanguard in the war against COVID-19. They’re not the kinds of workers who get movies or TV shows made about them. In fact, their stories are rarely told. But not only are they battling heroically against this pandemic. They’re fighting for recognition and respect within a system built to marginalize them.  COMMONS: Pandemic is currently focusing on how COVID-19 is affecting long-term care in Canada.   Featured in this episode: Joadel Concepcion, Joanna Bulatao, Lisa Burke, Naomi Lightman, Zaid Noorsumar To learn more: “‘We are dropping like flies,’ says Ontario home care nurse” by Zaid Noorsumar in Rank and File “Fear and exhaustion: Working as a PSW in long-term care during the coronavirus” by Alanna Mitchell in Maclean’s “Comparing Care Regimes: Worker Characteristics and Wage Penalties in the Global Care Chain” by Naomi Lightman in Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State & Society   This episode is sponsored by Freshbooks Additional music from Audio Network   TRANSCRIPT:    EPISODE 7 – “THE FRONTLINE”   COLD OPEN [ARSHY MANN] Joadel Concepcion’s been working as a registered nurse in long-term care for almost two decades. And she remembers the last time things seemed this frightening. It was 2003. That was when a different coronavirus was sweeping the world, causing Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or “SARS” for short.    [JOADEL CONCEPCION] During SARS time there is a lot of nurses <indistinct> got sick. Even my sister-in-law, she got sick. We have that fear. Why am I going to have this stress again? We don’t know.   [ARSHY] So when she started feeling feverish in early April, Joadel went out to get tested right away.   [CONCEPCION] My first symptoms started on a Saturday, which is April four. I went right away to Scarborough Grace to get tested. And then when I came back home, I had a little bit of OCD for even from SRS time. So when–when I came home, I took a shower because I thought the fever will just subside.   [ARSHY] But the fever didn’t subside. Instead, the symptoms started to get more intense.   [CONCEPCION] I was coughing. I was vomiting. When my husband give me the food, like… I don’t have an appetite. I don’t smell it and I don’t taste it.   [ARSHY] For a few days, Joadel stayed at home, trying to get rest and stay hydrated. But by April 8, she was having trouble breathing.    [CONCEPCION] My airway’s blocked. I can’t breathe. You want to like raise your chest or trying to catch the air, but you can’t. That’s how I feel.   [ARSHY] She asked her son to drive her to Scarborough Grace Hospital. And when they got to the emergency room, a man was outside screening people and asking them questions.   [CONCEPCION] He was saying, “I have to screen you.” I said, “No, don’t screen me.” And I feel like I’m going to die. I can’t breathe.   [ARSHY] The man tried to determine whether she should come wait in the emergency room.   [CONCEPCION] And I can tell my son and my husband are crying. Yelling at them, “Don’t come near me. Don’t come near me.” So I said to one of the staff, I said, “I’m gonna pass out. Please help me. I have COVID. I’m an RN and I work in long-term care.” That’s all I said. And then they took me right away   [ARSHY] They put her on oxygen. But then they realized she was developing congestive heart failure. So they gave her injections, antibiotics, anti-clotting agents… Luckily, Joadel had gotten there in time. She didn’t die. She’s now out of the hospital and fully recovered.  But a lot of people haven’t been so lucky. Since the beginning of the pandemic, thousands of long-term care workers have come down with COVID-19. And 16 of them have died. I’m Arshy Mann, and from CANADALAND, this is Commons.   PART ONE [ARSHY] In stories about long-term care, the workers are often left out of the picture. It’s the nurses, the personal support workers and so many others in these facilities that really have been on the front-line of this pandemic. But they’re work isn’t viewed as sexy or captivating. After all, people don’t make TV shows or movies about long-term care, like they do with hospitals.  And compared to their counterparts in emergency rooms and critical care units, their frontline labour is often devalued.    [NAOMI LIGHTMAN] And they’re often what we refer to as the three “D”s. So, jobs that are dirty, difficult, and, especially during times of a health pandemic, highly dangerous. My name is Naomi Lightman and I’m an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Calgary. My research focuses on the intersection between gender, migration, race and care work.   [ARSHY] According to her research, it’s clear that these jobs, especially personal support workers who provide a big chunk of the day-to-day care, are occupied by specific kinds of people.    [LIGHTMAN] So this is overwhelmingly a female workforce and it’s very much racialized. When we talk just broadly about racialized women, it doesn’t actually capture it. It’s really specifically two groups that we’re talking about. We’re talking about black women and Filipino women who are, in the case of black women, over two times as likely as white women to be working in these jobs and with Filipino women over three times as likely.   [ARSHY] And the people working in these types of positions are also much more likely to be recent immigrants.    [LIGHTMAN] So, when we look at personal support workers or people working specifically in long term care institutions, these are, in fact, among the most precarious and the lowest wage workers, especially in private institutions.  When we compare them to just the average worker and we’re still controlling for factors like their education and their family structure… So holding these factors constant, we see that there is a 40 percent wage penalty for low-skill care work.   [ARSHY] Naomi Lightman says that this is because caring for people has historically been viewed as, quote-unquote, women’s work.    [LIGHTMAN] And I think as this kind of work has entered the paid labor force, we’ve continued to view it through a lens of work that doesn’t really matter or doesn’t hold the same value to other types of paid work. So, we rely on women who are coming from the Global South to do this work that we don’t want to do, and we continue to view it as labor that doesn’t hold the same value as other kinds of work.   [ARSHY] Lisa Burke is a personal support worker at peopleCare Oakcrossing, a long-term care facility in London, Ontario. Here’s what a typical day looks like for her.    [LISA BURKE] I work straight day-shifts. I work 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. When we get to our unit, we have to come a few minutes early to get a report. There’s usually three to four staff to 32 residents.  We get report. They tell us if there’s anybody who’s been hospitalized, any changes, any med changes, any behaviors, any falls, anything like that. We have two hours to get the 32 residents up, dressed, bathed, hairbrush, teeth in, and into the dining room to be fed for breakfast. Some of these residents are aggressive. Some of the residents are fairly independent. And we just have to help with small things, like picking out their clothes. Some people need total care where they have to be dressed, rolled, changed, use a mechanical lift.  If we have to use a mechanical lift  there has to be a minimum of two people to then get that person up and into their wheelchair. We’re supposed to chart at the same time as getting them ready, which is near impossible. And then we have an hour to feed them breakfast. Most times we don’t get into the dining room exactly when we’re supposed to. We’re usually late because there’s just so much care to be done and we don’t have enough people to do it. And then we have to feed them. We’re only supposed to feed two people at a time. So a lot of people have to wait to get their meal because we can only feed two people at a time. After breakfast, we would have to take them back to their rooms. If we can, get a break in. And then you would start toileting residents. Helping, taking them to activities, changing them. Some people lay down for a nap. Finish some baths. And then you would get people back up, toilet people, and then we’d go for lunch, and feed them lunch, the same thing. And then we have like an hour to get people out of the dining room and then back to the rooms, toilet them, change them, lay them down for a nap, if they need to have a nap, and try to chart and get everything done at the same time.   [ARSHY] Lisa Burke says that her home is always understaffed. And when they ask for more help, management tells them that they don’t have enough funding.    [BURKE] We don’t have enough staff at all to give any of the residents the type of care they need and deserve.   [ARSHY] Zaid Noorsumar is a labour reporter who’s been covering long-term care workers. And he says that, even as the care needs of long-term residents have been growing, staff aren’t getting more of the resources they need.   [ZAID NOORSUMAR] Residents coming into long-term care now have increasingly complex needs and they require a higher level of care, while, at the same time, the staffing ratios have not kept up. They haven’t been increased in accordance with the acuity of patients. So that’s a big factor, and what that means is that staff are constantly rushing. They’re running around. They don’t have the time to spend with residents.   [BURKE] People think that we get paid this giant amount of money and that we’re lazy because we’re complaining that we don’t have enough time or the manpower to do the work. I don’t think they know how physically, mentally, emotionally draining the job actually is.   [ARSHY] Joanna Bulatao agrees. She’s a registered practical nurse at Villa Leonardo Gambin, the same facility that Joedel Concepcion works at.    [JOANNA BULATAO] A lot of our staff, they’re constantly, like… Overwork themselves or, like, they really give their all when they’re providing, like, care to our residents. And it gets very, very tiring, like, especially during now. It does get exhausting. It’s not that we don’t want to provide care. It’s just that we become so drained because we want to help.   [ARSHY] And long-term care workers form close personal bonds with the people they take care of.   [NOORSUMAR] They think of residents as their family members, and they really feel they–they want to provide the best care that they can. In fact, one of the workers that I spoke with, who used to be in home care… I think now she works long-term care. She said, “Mentally, it’s a very draining job. You get attached to your client and then you get frustrated because you know the need for care but they aren’t getting it. Most of us PSWs are the type that, if the client’s having a bad day, it’s hard not to take that with you. And she said, after years and years of not being able to provide health care, she was burned out and she quit. She said, “I started my car and I started crying and I couldn’t stop.” And that’s the day she quit.   [ARSHY] All of the workers we spoke to said the same thing: the people they care for become like family to them.   [BURKE] Even when we have a person who becomes palliative or passes away, a part of us goes with them, too. Like, a lot of the time we’re in the room with them, or with the family. We’re crying with the family. Or even if they’re alone, we’re with them, holding them, as they take their last breath. Like, it’s… It’s like losing a part of your family.    [BULATAO] I think people don’t really realize that, like, when you’re with the same residents, they kind of become like a part of you. Like, they become, like, your–your family. That’s–that’s who we’re taking care of. We’re taking care of them just like we would our grandparents.   PART TWO [ARSHY] Joadel Concepcion, who you heard at the top of the show, came to Canada from the Philippines in 1995. She first worked as a nanny and then took some courses and became a registered nurse. Soon, she was working in long-term care. And, since 2004, she’s been working at Villa Leonardo Gambin, a long-term care home in Woodbridge, Ontario. The home was built for the nearby Italian community, so in order to be able to care for the residents, Jodel’s learned as much Italian as she could.   [CONCEPCION] So you have to encourage them and say… [speaking Italian]   [ARSHY] Villa Leonardo Gambin is technically a non-profit home, but it’s run by Sienna, one of the largest for-profit long-term care providers. The home would have pandemic preparedness training every year and Joadel was one of the people tasked with ensuring that people’s masks fit properly. By early March of this year, Joadel was getting more and more worried about COVID-19. She’d had family members who had gotten SARS, and she knew how scary things could get. And she says that, early on, it became clear that the staff weren’t going to get the proper personal protective equipment. By mid-March, the doctor who used to come do rounds refused to enter the building.     [CONCEPCION] They don’t do rounds in the building because they know that the administrator is not giving him PPE. Dr. Bujon will only do OTN with me using my cell phone to see his patients from the middle of March, or almost third week of March.   [ARSHY] By the weekend of March 27th, some of the residents on Joadel’s floor started coming down with COVID-19 symptoms, like fevers and coughs. And the staff started to ask management for masks.    [CONCEPCION] When are they giving us mass? This resident is coughing. We don’t have enough masks. We’re talking about surgical masks, okay? She says, “I gave you guys. If you finish it, that’s your problem.” That’s always her comment. Everybody knew that.    [ARSHY] And because Joadel is the union steward, staff started to come to her, saying that they were short on PPE. But Joadel says that when she took those concerns to management, they were just brushed off.   [CONCEPCION] What? Did I told you to talk to me? I told her to talk to me. Why she’s telling you? I said, no, she’s telling me now, because I’m the union steward. It’s my responsibility to follow up. So then she says, “Well, the public health say that you have to wear masks.”   [ARSHY] A spokesperson for Sienna denied that staff at Villa Leonardo Gambin were ever told not to wear PPE, especially when they were supporting residents displaying respiratory flu-like symptoms. Over the next few days, a number of residents started to experience upper respiratory issues, a telltale COVID-19 symptom.    [CONCEPCION] And some staff, they put on their own from their home. They would get mad at you.   [ARSHY] Joadel says that the message from management was clear. Because Public Health Ontario had yet to mandate it, no one had to wear a mask. And so they weren’t going to be provided any. Joanna Bulatao says that it was very difficult for staff members to get PPE.   [BULATAO] I don’t think that they were prepared for that to spread to other floors, because when it did, it didn’t really feel, like, that we had as much supplies and they felt like we were, like, pulling teeth to get, like, the supplies because we were running low in the home.   [ARSHY] The staff continued to work in close proximity to each other and to provide bedside care. And all the while, residents were moving around the facility.    [CONCEPCION] They’re in the rooms, but they come out. They’re wandering. What are you going to do, tie them on their beds? You’re going to lose your job.   [ARSHY] On March 28, Joadel says that managers asked her to test a number of residents for COVID-19, even though it wasn’t her job. She wasn’t given the proper PPE, but she did it anyways. The next day, another nurse came down with a fever. And within a week, Joadel came down with one, too. That same day, she heard that one of the residents she had tested was now positive.  Within another week, Joadel Concepcion was in the emergency room at Scarborough Grace Hospital, convinced that she was going to die.    [CONCEPCION] I have a lot of diarrhea, vomiting, and so my potassium is low. My heart arrhythmia acted up. I developed congestive heart failure. I had COVID-19 pneumonia.   [ARSHY] Joadel prayed to God that she would survive and be able to spend time with her family.    [CONCEPCION] I’m not a perfect human being. Just give me another chance to live. I still want to see my son get married and have grandkids. And, you know, um, He has to give me another chance to live again. But you know, Arshy, I was… I was just praying. And I just prayed and I said, “God…” And you’re making me cry. [indistinct] It’s so sad.   [ARSHY] But during that time, she couldn’t help but feel betrayed. She had thought that her managers were her friends, that they looked out for her.   [CONCEPCION] I work… I worked with these managers for many years. And I… I… I’m not nobody to them. And then they… Just to give me the N95. They says there’s no supply.   [ARSHY] While she was sitting in that hospital bed recovering, Joedel was amazed by what she saw around her. The protocols, the protections in the hospital were nothing like  in long-term care.    [CONCEPCION] When I was in Scarborough Grace, they disinfect. They come to my room three times, the full shift, the whole day, to take the garbage. Do proper disinfection. They’re wearing double masks, one N95 and the surgical mask under facial, and double gowns, and three pairs of gloves. In long term care, you share everything. They don’t do proper disinfection from the beginning before the COVID. How about now?   [ARSHY] At least twelve residents of Villa Leonardo Gambin have died of COVID-19. And, according to Joadel, 31 employees, including herself, have been infected with the coronavirus. She says that the last staff member who got sick was on May 17the, a month and a half after the outbreak began.  We reached out to Sienna for comment about all of this, and, in an emailed statement, they said that throughout the pandemic, their highest priority has been to ensure the safety of their team members and residents. They say that they ensured ample supplies of PPE were available, including N95 masks, and that charge nurses have access to the residence’s storage room to ensure that team members can acquire new PPE at all times. According to Sienna, team members were encouraged to wear PPE provided by the home, instead of their own, to ensure it met the appropriate standard, and they thanked their team members for their heroic work and their ongoing dedication throughout this pandemic.   OUTRO [ARSHY] As the COVID-19 outbreak was sweeping through the long-term care facility where she worked, Joanna Bulatao was scared.   [BULATAO] It was horrible. <laughs> I mean, it’s like a whole internal battle with yourself because it’s like you want to go into work, you want to help yourself. You want to help your residents. Like, you want to be there and–and do your job. Like, you want to actually help them. But obviously, at the back of your mind, you’re always thinking, like, “Oh, my God, what if I get sick? Like, what if I bring this home to my family? What if I…” You know, “What if I… What if I’m a carrier?”   [ARSHY] And like so many of her colleagues, she became infected and had to stop coming into work.   [BULATAO] As a nurse, I want to be helping. I want to be there. I want to give as much as I can during, like, these difficult times. And knowing that I can’t, and knowing that as I want to, I can’t do anything about it. It’s really frustrating. And it really takes a toll on, like, mental health. And it’s just the worst feeling ever.   [ARSHY] But what got to her the most was that so many of the people she was charged with caring for are now dead. She was stationed on the floor that lost the most residents.     [BULATAO] It was honestly the hardest thing. When I found out that, like, residents were starting to pass on a unit, it was… Either I was breaking down on–on the phone when someone was telling me or I was trying to, like, hold it together. And, it’s just because you build that relationship with them. You remember all of the memories that you have with them. And then to just think that, like, “Oh, well, that’s all you have now, are just memories.” It’s… It’s very hard. Very hard.   [ARSHY] Lisa Burke was lucky enough to not become infected with the coronavirus. But she is frustrated by the state of long-term care. And she thinks enough is enough.    [BURKE] We’ve been… Us, like, in the union, have been yelling, like, “We need more help, we need more staff, we need more of this.” Like, you guys need to come in and regulate more things. And I just think it’s–it’s very, very sad that a pandemic has to show the world what we’ve been shouting for many, many years now.  We are the backbone of the healthcare system, and a lot of people just don’t see the hard work and the dedication of long-term care employees.   END CREDITS [ARSHY] That’s your episode of Commons for the week. If you want to support us, click on the link in your show notes or go to commonspodcast.com This episode relied on work done by Naomi Lightman, Zaid Noorsumar, Tamara Daly, Pat Armstrong and Nora Loreto. If you want to get in touch with us, you can tweet at us at @COMMONSpod. You can also email me, Arshy@canadalandshow.com This episode was produced by me and Jordan Cornish, with additional production by Tiffany Lam. Our managing editor is Andréa Schmidt. And our music is by Nathan Burley.  If you like what we do, please help us make this show. Click on the link in your shownotes or go to commonspodcast.com   I think you should be getting our newsletterGet a weekly note about our top stories.This is a good thing that we do. You'll like this.johnsmith@example.comSign UpForm is being submitted, please wait a bit.Please fill out all required fields.
May 30, 2017
76
Amy Goodman/The Constitutional Clusterf**k
Support us at commonspodcast.com Long-term care workers are in the vanguard in the war against COVID-19. They’re not the kinds of workers who get movies or TV shows made about them. In fact, their stories are rarely told. But not only are they battling heroically against this pandemic. They’re fighting for recognition and respect within a system built to marginalize them.  COMMONS: Pandemic is currently focusing on how COVID-19 is affecting long-term care in Canada.   Featured in this episode: Joadel Concepcion, Joanna Bulatao, Lisa Burke, Naomi Lightman, Zaid Noorsumar To learn more: “‘We are dropping like flies,’ says Ontario home care nurse” by Zaid Noorsumar in Rank and File “Fear and exhaustion: Working as a PSW in long-term care during the coronavirus” by Alanna Mitchell in Maclean’s “Comparing Care Regimes: Worker Characteristics and Wage Penalties in the Global Care Chain” by Naomi Lightman in Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State & Society   This episode is sponsored by Freshbooks Additional music from Audio Network   TRANSCRIPT:    EPISODE 7 – “THE FRONTLINE”   COLD OPEN [ARSHY MANN] Joadel Concepcion’s been working as a registered nurse in long-term care for almost two decades. And she remembers the last time things seemed this frightening. It was 2003. That was when a different coronavirus was sweeping the world, causing Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or “SARS” for short.    [JOADEL CONCEPCION] During SARS time there is a lot of nurses <indistinct> got sick. Even my sister-in-law, she got sick. We have that fear. Why am I going to have this stress again? We don’t know.   [ARSHY] So when she started feeling feverish in early April, Joadel went out to get tested right away.   [CONCEPCION] My first symptoms started on a Saturday, which is April four. I went right away to Scarborough Grace to get tested. And then when I came back home, I had a little bit of OCD for even from SRS time. So when–when I came home, I took a shower because I thought the fever will just subside.   [ARSHY] But the fever didn’t subside. Instead, the symptoms started to get more intense.   [CONCEPCION] I was coughing. I was vomiting. When my husband give me the food, like… I don’t have an appetite. I don’t smell it and I don’t taste it.   [ARSHY] For a few days, Joadel stayed at home, trying to get rest and stay hydrated. But by April 8, she was having trouble breathing.    [CONCEPCION] My airway’s blocked. I can’t breathe. You want to like raise your chest or trying to catch the air, but you can’t. That’s how I feel.   [ARSHY] She asked her son to drive her to Scarborough Grace Hospital. And when they got to the emergency room, a man was outside screening people and asking them questions.   [CONCEPCION] He was saying, “I have to screen you.” I said, “No, don’t screen me.” And I feel like I’m going to die. I can’t breathe.   [ARSHY] The man tried to determine whether she should come wait in the emergency room.   [CONCEPCION] And I can tell my son and my husband are crying. Yelling at them, “Don’t come near me. Don’t come near me.” So I said to one of the staff, I said, “I’m gonna pass out. Please help me. I have COVID. I’m an RN and I work in long-term care.” That’s all I said. And then they took me right away   [ARSHY] They put her on oxygen. But then they realized she was developing congestive heart failure. So they gave her injections, antibiotics, anti-clotting agents… Luckily, Joadel had gotten there in time. She didn’t die. She’s now out of the hospital and fully recovered.  But a lot of people haven’t been so lucky. Since the beginning of the pandemic, thousands of long-term care workers have come down with COVID-19. And 16 of them have died. I’m Arshy Mann, and from CANADALAND, this is Commons.   PART ONE [ARSHY] In stories about long-term care, the workers are often left out of the picture. It’s the nurses, the personal support workers and so many others in these facilities that really have been on the front-line of this pandemic. But they’re work isn’t viewed as sexy or captivating. After all, people don’t make TV shows or movies about long-term care, like they do with hospitals.  And compared to their counterparts in emergency rooms and critical care units, their frontline labour is often devalued.    [NAOMI LIGHTMAN] And they’re often what we refer to as the three “D”s. So, jobs that are dirty, difficult, and, especially during times of a health pandemic, highly dangerous. My name is Naomi Lightman and I’m an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Calgary. My research focuses on the intersection between gender, migration, race and care work.   [ARSHY] According to her research, it’s clear that these jobs, especially personal support workers who provide a big chunk of the day-to-day care, are occupied by specific kinds of people.    [LIGHTMAN] So this is overwhelmingly a female workforce and it’s very much racialized. When we talk just broadly about racialized women, it doesn’t actually capture it. It’s really specifically two groups that we’re talking about. We’re talking about black women and Filipino women who are, in the case of black women, over two times as likely as white women to be working in these jobs and with Filipino women over three times as likely.   [ARSHY] And the people working in these types of positions are also much more likely to be recent immigrants.    [LIGHTMAN] So, when we look at personal support workers or people working specifically in long term care institutions, these are, in fact, among the most precarious and the lowest wage workers, especially in private institutions.  When we compare them to just the average worker and we’re still controlling for factors like their education and their family structure… So holding these factors constant, we see that there is a 40 percent wage penalty for low-skill care work.   [ARSHY] Naomi Lightman says that this is because caring for people has historically been viewed as, quote-unquote, women’s work.    [LIGHTMAN] And I think as this kind of work has entered the paid labor force, we’ve continued to view it through a lens of work that doesn’t really matter or doesn’t hold the same value to other types of paid work. So, we rely on women who are coming from the Global South to do this work that we don’t want to do, and we continue to view it as labor that doesn’t hold the same value as other kinds of work.   [ARSHY] Lisa Burke is a personal support worker at peopleCare Oakcrossing, a long-term care facility in London, Ontario. Here’s what a typical day looks like for her.    [LISA BURKE] I work straight day-shifts. I work 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. When we get to our unit, we have to come a few minutes early to get a report. There’s usually three to four staff to 32 residents.  We get report. They tell us if there’s anybody who’s been hospitalized, any changes, any med changes, any behaviors, any falls, anything like that. We have two hours to get the 32 residents up, dressed, bathed, hairbrush, teeth in, and into the dining room to be fed for breakfast. Some of these residents are aggressive. Some of the residents are fairly independent. And we just have to help with small things, like picking out their clothes. Some people need total care where they have to be dressed, rolled, changed, use a mechanical lift.  If we have to use a mechanical lift  there has to be a minimum of two people to then get that person up and into their wheelchair. We’re supposed to chart at the same time as getting them ready, which is near impossible. And then we have an hour to feed them breakfast. Most times we don’t get into the dining room exactly when we’re supposed to. We’re usually late because there’s just so much care to be done and we don’t have enough people to do it. And then we have to feed them. We’re only supposed to feed two people at a time. So a lot of people have to wait to get their meal because we can only feed two people at a time. After breakfast, we would have to take them back to their rooms. If we can, get a break in. And then you would start toileting residents. Helping, taking them to activities, changing them. Some people lay down for a nap. Finish some baths. And then you would get people back up, toilet people, and then we’d go for lunch, and feed them lunch, the same thing. And then we have like an hour to get people out of the dining room and then back to the rooms, toilet them, change them, lay them down for a nap, if they need to have a nap, and try to chart and get everything done at the same time.   [ARSHY] Lisa Burke says that her home is always understaffed. And when they ask for more help, management tells them that they don’t have enough funding.    [BURKE] We don’t have enough staff at all to give any of the residents the type of care they need and deserve.   [ARSHY] Zaid Noorsumar is a labour reporter who’s been covering long-term care workers. And he says that, even as the care needs of long-term residents have been growing, staff aren’t getting more of the resources they need.   [ZAID NOORSUMAR] Residents coming into long-term care now have increasingly complex needs and they require a higher level of care, while, at the same time, the staffing ratios have not kept up. They haven’t been increased in accordance with the acuity of patients. So that’s a big factor, and what that means is that staff are constantly rushing. They’re running around. They don’t have the time to spend with residents.   [BURKE] People think that we get paid this giant amount of money and that we’re lazy because we’re complaining that we don’t have enough time or the manpower to do the work. I don’t think they know how physically, mentally, emotionally draining the job actually is.   [ARSHY] Joanna Bulatao agrees. She’s a registered practical nurse at Villa Leonardo Gambin, the same facility that Joedel Concepcion works at.    [JOANNA BULATAO] A lot of our staff, they’re constantly, like… Overwork themselves or, like, they really give their all when they’re providing, like, care to our residents. And it gets very, very tiring, like, especially during now. It does get exhausting. It’s not that we don’t want to provide care. It’s just that we become so drained because we want to help.   [ARSHY] And long-term care workers form close personal bonds with the people they take care of.   [NOORSUMAR] They think of residents as their family members, and they really feel they–they want to provide the best care that they can. In fact, one of the workers that I spoke with, who used to be in home care… I think now she works long-term care. She said, “Mentally, it’s a very draining job. You get attached to your client and then you get frustrated because you know the need for care but they aren’t getting it. Most of us PSWs are the type that, if the client’s having a bad day, it’s hard not to take that with you. And she said, after years and years of not being able to provide health care, she was burned out and she quit. She said, “I started my car and I started crying and I couldn’t stop.” And that’s the day she quit.   [ARSHY] All of the workers we spoke to said the same thing: the people they care for become like family to them.   [BURKE] Even when we have a person who becomes palliative or passes away, a part of us goes with them, too. Like, a lot of the time we’re in the room with them, or with the family. We’re crying with the family. Or even if they’re alone, we’re with them, holding them, as they take their last breath. Like, it’s… It’s like losing a part of your family.    [BULATAO] I think people don’t really realize that, like, when you’re with the same residents, they kind of become like a part of you. Like, they become, like, your–your family. That’s–that’s who we’re taking care of. We’re taking care of them just like we would our grandparents.   PART TWO [ARSHY] Joadel Concepcion, who you heard at the top of the show, came to Canada from the Philippines in 1995. She first worked as a nanny and then took some courses and became a registered nurse. Soon, she was working in long-term care. And, since 2004, she’s been working at Villa Leonardo Gambin, a long-term care home in Woodbridge, Ontario. The home was built for the nearby Italian community, so in order to be able to care for the residents, Jodel’s learned as much Italian as she could.   [CONCEPCION] So you have to encourage them and say… [speaking Italian]   [ARSHY] Villa Leonardo Gambin is technically a non-profit home, but it’s run by Sienna, one of the largest for-profit long-term care providers. The home would have pandemic preparedness training every year and Joadel was one of the people tasked with ensuring that people’s masks fit properly. By early March of this year, Joadel was getting more and more worried about COVID-19. She’d had family members who had gotten SARS, and she knew how scary things could get. And she says that, early on, it became clear that the staff weren’t going to get the proper personal protective equipment. By mid-March, the doctor who used to come do rounds refused to enter the building.     [CONCEPCION] They don’t do rounds in the building because they know that the administrator is not giving him PPE. Dr. Bujon will only do OTN with me using my cell phone to see his patients from the middle of March, or almost third week of March.   [ARSHY] By the weekend of March 27th, some of the residents on Joadel’s floor started coming down with COVID-19 symptoms, like fevers and coughs. And the staff started to ask management for masks.    [CONCEPCION] When are they giving us mass? This resident is coughing. We don’t have enough masks. We’re talking about surgical masks, okay? She says, “I gave you guys. If you finish it, that’s your problem.” That’s always her comment. Everybody knew that.    [ARSHY] And because Joadel is the union steward, staff started to come to her, saying that they were short on PPE. But Joadel says that when she took those concerns to management, they were just brushed off.   [CONCEPCION] What? Did I told you to talk to me? I told her to talk to me. Why she’s telling you? I said, no, she’s telling me now, because I’m the union steward. It’s my responsibility to follow up. So then she says, “Well, the public health say that you have to wear masks.”   [ARSHY] A spokesperson for Sienna denied that staff at Villa Leonardo Gambin were ever told not to wear PPE, especially when they were supporting residents displaying respiratory flu-like symptoms. Over the next few days, a number of residents started to experience upper respiratory issues, a telltale COVID-19 symptom.    [CONCEPCION] And some staff, they put on their own from their home. They would get mad at you.   [ARSHY] Joadel says that the message from management was clear. Because Public Health Ontario had yet to mandate it, no one had to wear a mask. And so they weren’t going to be provided any. Joanna Bulatao says that it was very difficult for staff members to get PPE.   [BULATAO] I don’t think that they were prepared for that to spread to other floors, because when it did, it didn’t really feel, like, that we had as much supplies and they felt like we were, like, pulling teeth to get, like, the supplies because we were running low in the home.   [ARSHY] The staff continued to work in close proximity to each other and to provide bedside care. And all the while, residents were moving around the facility.    [CONCEPCION] They’re in the rooms, but they come out. They’re wandering. What are you going to do, tie them on their beds? You’re going to lose your job.   [ARSHY] On March 28, Joadel says that managers asked her to test a number of residents for COVID-19, even though it wasn’t her job. She wasn’t given the proper PPE, but she did it anyways. The next day, another nurse came down with a fever. And within a week, Joadel came down with one, too. That same day, she heard that one of the residents she had tested was now positive.  Within another week, Joadel Concepcion was in the emergency room at Scarborough Grace Hospital, convinced that she was going to die.    [CONCEPCION] I have a lot of diarrhea, vomiting, and so my potassium is low. My heart arrhythmia acted up. I developed congestive heart failure. I had COVID-19 pneumonia.   [ARSHY] Joadel prayed to God that she would survive and be able to spend time with her family.    [CONCEPCION] I’m not a perfect human being. Just give me another chance to live. I still want to see my son get married and have grandkids. And, you know, um, He has to give me another chance to live again. But you know, Arshy, I was… I was just praying. And I just prayed and I said, “God…” And you’re making me cry. [indistinct] It’s so sad.   [ARSHY] But during that time, she couldn’t help but feel betrayed. She had thought that her managers were her friends, that they looked out for her.   [CONCEPCION] I work… I worked with these managers for many years. And I… I… I’m not nobody to them. And then they… Just to give me the N95. They says there’s no supply.   [ARSHY] While she was sitting in that hospital bed recovering, Joedel was amazed by what she saw around her. The protocols, the protections in the hospital were nothing like  in long-term care.    [CONCEPCION] When I was in Scarborough Grace, they disinfect. They come to my room three times, the full shift, the whole day, to take the garbage. Do proper disinfection. They’re wearing double masks, one N95 and the surgical mask under facial, and double gowns, and three pairs of gloves. In long term care, you share everything. They don’t do proper disinfection from the beginning before the COVID. How about now?   [ARSHY] At least twelve residents of Villa Leonardo Gambin have died of COVID-19. And, according to Joadel, 31 employees, including herself, have been infected with the coronavirus. She says that the last staff member who got sick was on May 17the, a month and a half after the outbreak began.  We reached out to Sienna for comment about all of this, and, in an emailed statement, they said that throughout the pandemic, their highest priority has been to ensure the safety of their team members and residents. They say that they ensured ample supplies of PPE were available, including N95 masks, and that charge nurses have access to the residence’s storage room to ensure that team members can acquire new PPE at all times. According to Sienna, team members were encouraged to wear PPE provided by the home, instead of their own, to ensure it met the appropriate standard, and they thanked their team members for their heroic work and their ongoing dedication throughout this pandemic.   OUTRO [ARSHY] As the COVID-19 outbreak was sweeping through the long-term care facility where she worked, Joanna Bulatao was scared.   [BULATAO] It was horrible. <laughs> I mean, it’s like a whole internal battle with yourself because it’s like you want to go into work, you want to help yourself. You want to help your residents. Like, you want to be there and–and do your job. Like, you want to actually help them. But obviously, at the back of your mind, you’re always thinking, like, “Oh, my God, what if I get sick? Like, what if I bring this home to my family? What if I…” You know, “What if I… What if I’m a carrier?”   [ARSHY] And like so many of her colleagues, she became infected and had to stop coming into work.   [BULATAO] As a nurse, I want to be helping. I want to be there. I want to give as much as I can during, like, these difficult times. And knowing that I can’t, and knowing that as I want to, I can’t do anything about it. It’s really frustrating. And it really takes a toll on, like, mental health. And it’s just the worst feeling ever.   [ARSHY] But what got to her the most was that so many of the people she was charged with caring for are now dead. She was stationed on the floor that lost the most residents.     [BULATAO] It was honestly the hardest thing. When I found out that, like, residents were starting to pass on a unit, it was… Either I was breaking down on–on the phone when someone was telling me or I was trying to, like, hold it together. And, it’s just because you build that relationship with them. You remember all of the memories that you have with them. And then to just think that, like, “Oh, well, that’s all you have now, are just memories.” It’s… It’s very hard. Very hard.   [ARSHY] Lisa Burke was lucky enough to not become infected with the coronavirus. But she is frustrated by the state of long-term care. And she thinks enough is enough.    [BURKE] We’ve been… Us, like, in the union, have been yelling, like, “We need more help, we need more staff, we need more of this.” Like, you guys need to come in and regulate more things. And I just think it’s–it’s very, very sad that a pandemic has to show the world what we’ve been shouting for many, many years now.  We are the backbone of the healthcare system, and a lot of people just don’t see the hard work and the dedication of long-term care employees.   END CREDITS [ARSHY] That’s your episode of Commons for the week. If you want to support us, click on the link in your show notes or go to commonspodcast.com This episode relied on work done by Naomi Lightman, Zaid Noorsumar, Tamara Daly, Pat Armstrong and Nora Loreto. If you want to get in touch with us, you can tweet at us at @COMMONSpod. You can also email me, Arshy@canadalandshow.com This episode was produced by me and Jordan Cornish, with additional production by Tiffany Lam. Our managing editor is Andréa Schmidt. And our music is by Nathan Burley.  If you like what we do, please help us make this show. Click on the link in your shownotes or go to commonspodcast.com   I think you should be getting our newsletterGet a weekly note about our top stories.This is a good thing that we do. You'll like this.johnsmith@example.comSign UpForm is being submitted, please wait a bit.Please fill out all required fields.
June 13, 2017
77
The Rise Of The Right
Support us at commonspodcast.com Long-term care workers are in the vanguard in the war against COVID-19. They’re not the kinds of workers who get movies or TV shows made about them. In fact, their stories are rarely told. But not only are they battling heroically against this pandemic. They’re fighting for recognition and respect within a system built to marginalize them.  COMMONS: Pandemic is currently focusing on how COVID-19 is affecting long-term care in Canada.   Featured in this episode: Joadel Concepcion, Joanna Bulatao, Lisa Burke, Naomi Lightman, Zaid Noorsumar To learn more: “‘We are dropping like flies,’ says Ontario home care nurse” by Zaid Noorsumar in Rank and File “Fear and exhaustion: Working as a PSW in long-term care during the coronavirus” by Alanna Mitchell in Maclean’s “Comparing Care Regimes: Worker Characteristics and Wage Penalties in the Global Care Chain” by Naomi Lightman in Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State & Society   This episode is sponsored by Freshbooks Additional music from Audio Network   TRANSCRIPT:    EPISODE 7 – “THE FRONTLINE”   COLD OPEN [ARSHY MANN] Joadel Concepcion’s been working as a registered nurse in long-term care for almost two decades. And she remembers the last time things seemed this frightening. It was 2003. That was when a different coronavirus was sweeping the world, causing Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or “SARS” for short.    [JOADEL CONCEPCION] During SARS time there is a lot of nurses <indistinct> got sick. Even my sister-in-law, she got sick. We have that fear. Why am I going to have this stress again? We don’t know.   [ARSHY] So when she started feeling feverish in early April, Joadel went out to get tested right away.   [CONCEPCION] My first symptoms started on a Saturday, which is April four. I went right away to Scarborough Grace to get tested. And then when I came back home, I had a little bit of OCD for even from SRS time. So when–when I came home, I took a shower because I thought the fever will just subside.   [ARSHY] But the fever didn’t subside. Instead, the symptoms started to get more intense.   [CONCEPCION] I was coughing. I was vomiting. When my husband give me the food, like… I don’t have an appetite. I don’t smell it and I don’t taste it.   [ARSHY] For a few days, Joadel stayed at home, trying to get rest and stay hydrated. But by April 8, she was having trouble breathing.    [CONCEPCION] My airway’s blocked. I can’t breathe. You want to like raise your chest or trying to catch the air, but you can’t. That’s how I feel.   [ARSHY] She asked her son to drive her to Scarborough Grace Hospital. And when they got to the emergency room, a man was outside screening people and asking them questions.   [CONCEPCION] He was saying, “I have to screen you.” I said, “No, don’t screen me.” And I feel like I’m going to die. I can’t breathe.   [ARSHY] The man tried to determine whether she should come wait in the emergency room.   [CONCEPCION] And I can tell my son and my husband are crying. Yelling at them, “Don’t come near me. Don’t come near me.” So I said to one of the staff, I said, “I’m gonna pass out. Please help me. I have COVID. I’m an RN and I work in long-term care.” That’s all I said. And then they took me right away   [ARSHY] They put her on oxygen. But then they realized she was developing congestive heart failure. So they gave her injections, antibiotics, anti-clotting agents… Luckily, Joadel had gotten there in time. She didn’t die. She’s now out of the hospital and fully recovered.  But a lot of people haven’t been so lucky. Since the beginning of the pandemic, thousands of long-term care workers have come down with COVID-19. And 16 of them have died. I’m Arshy Mann, and from CANADALAND, this is Commons.   PART ONE [ARSHY] In stories about long-term care, the workers are often left out of the picture. It’s the nurses, the personal support workers and so many others in these facilities that really have been on the front-line of this pandemic. But they’re work isn’t viewed as sexy or captivating. After all, people don’t make TV shows or movies about long-term care, like they do with hospitals.  And compared to their counterparts in emergency rooms and critical care units, their frontline labour is often devalued.    [NAOMI LIGHTMAN] And they’re often what we refer to as the three “D”s. So, jobs that are dirty, difficult, and, especially during times of a health pandemic, highly dangerous. My name is Naomi Lightman and I’m an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Calgary. My research focuses on the intersection between gender, migration, race and care work.   [ARSHY] According to her research, it’s clear that these jobs, especially personal support workers who provide a big chunk of the day-to-day care, are occupied by specific kinds of people.    [LIGHTMAN] So this is overwhelmingly a female workforce and it’s very much racialized. When we talk just broadly about racialized women, it doesn’t actually capture it. It’s really specifically two groups that we’re talking about. We’re talking about black women and Filipino women who are, in the case of black women, over two times as likely as white women to be working in these jobs and with Filipino women over three times as likely.   [ARSHY] And the people working in these types of positions are also much more likely to be recent immigrants.    [LIGHTMAN] So, when we look at personal support workers or people working specifically in long term care institutions, these are, in fact, among the most precarious and the lowest wage workers, especially in private institutions.  When we compare them to just the average worker and we’re still controlling for factors like their education and their family structure… So holding these factors constant, we see that there is a 40 percent wage penalty for low-skill care work.   [ARSHY] Naomi Lightman says that this is because caring for people has historically been viewed as, quote-unquote, women’s work.    [LIGHTMAN] And I think as this kind of work has entered the paid labor force, we’ve continued to view it through a lens of work that doesn’t really matter or doesn’t hold the same value to other types of paid work. So, we rely on women who are coming from the Global South to do this work that we don’t want to do, and we continue to view it as labor that doesn’t hold the same value as other kinds of work.   [ARSHY] Lisa Burke is a personal support worker at peopleCare Oakcrossing, a long-term care facility in London, Ontario. Here’s what a typical day looks like for her.    [LISA BURKE] I work straight day-shifts. I work 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. When we get to our unit, we have to come a few minutes early to get a report. There’s usually three to four staff to 32 residents.  We get report. They tell us if there’s anybody who’s been hospitalized, any changes, any med changes, any behaviors, any falls, anything like that. We have two hours to get the 32 residents up, dressed, bathed, hairbrush, teeth in, and into the dining room to be fed for breakfast. Some of these residents are aggressive. Some of the residents are fairly independent. And we just have to help with small things, like picking out their clothes. Some people need total care where they have to be dressed, rolled, changed, use a mechanical lift.  If we have to use a mechanical lift  there has to be a minimum of two people to then get that person up and into their wheelchair. We’re supposed to chart at the same time as getting them ready, which is near impossible. And then we have an hour to feed them breakfast. Most times we don’t get into the dining room exactly when we’re supposed to. We’re usually late because there’s just so much care to be done and we don’t have enough people to do it. And then we have to feed them. We’re only supposed to feed two people at a time. So a lot of people have to wait to get their meal because we can only feed two people at a time. After breakfast, we would have to take them back to their rooms. If we can, get a break in. And then you would start toileting residents. Helping, taking them to activities, changing them. Some people lay down for a nap. Finish some baths. And then you would get people back up, toilet people, and then we’d go for lunch, and feed them lunch, the same thing. And then we have like an hour to get people out of the dining room and then back to the rooms, toilet them, change them, lay them down for a nap, if they need to have a nap, and try to chart and get everything done at the same time.   [ARSHY] Lisa Burke says that her home is always understaffed. And when they ask for more help, management tells them that they don’t have enough funding.    [BURKE] We don’t have enough staff at all to give any of the residents the type of care they need and deserve.   [ARSHY] Zaid Noorsumar is a labour reporter who’s been covering long-term care workers. And he says that, even as the care needs of long-term residents have been growing, staff aren’t getting more of the resources they need.   [ZAID NOORSUMAR] Residents coming into long-term care now have increasingly complex needs and they require a higher level of care, while, at the same time, the staffing ratios have not kept up. They haven’t been increased in accordance with the acuity of patients. So that’s a big factor, and what that means is that staff are constantly rushing. They’re running around. They don’t have the time to spend with residents.   [BURKE] People think that we get paid this giant amount of money and that we’re lazy because we’re complaining that we don’t have enough time or the manpower to do the work. I don’t think they know how physically, mentally, emotionally draining the job actually is.   [ARSHY] Joanna Bulatao agrees. She’s a registered practical nurse at Villa Leonardo Gambin, the same facility that Joedel Concepcion works at.    [JOANNA BULATAO] A lot of our staff, they’re constantly, like… Overwork themselves or, like, they really give their all when they’re providing, like, care to our residents. And it gets very, very tiring, like, especially during now. It does get exhausting. It’s not that we don’t want to provide care. It’s just that we become so drained because we want to help.   [ARSHY] And long-term care workers form close personal bonds with the people they take care of.   [NOORSUMAR] They think of residents as their family members, and they really feel they–they want to provide the best care that they can. In fact, one of the workers that I spoke with, who used to be in home care… I think now she works long-term care. She said, “Mentally, it’s a very draining job. You get attached to your client and then you get frustrated because you know the need for care but they aren’t getting it. Most of us PSWs are the type that, if the client’s having a bad day, it’s hard not to take that with you. And she said, after years and years of not being able to provide health care, she was burned out and she quit. She said, “I started my car and I started crying and I couldn’t stop.” And that’s the day she quit.   [ARSHY] All of the workers we spoke to said the same thing: the people they care for become like family to them.   [BURKE] Even when we have a person who becomes palliative or passes away, a part of us goes with them, too. Like, a lot of the time we’re in the room with them, or with the family. We’re crying with the family. Or even if they’re alone, we’re with them, holding them, as they take their last breath. Like, it’s… It’s like losing a part of your family.    [BULATAO] I think people don’t really realize that, like, when you’re with the same residents, they kind of become like a part of you. Like, they become, like, your–your family. That’s–that’s who we’re taking care of. We’re taking care of them just like we would our grandparents.   PART TWO [ARSHY] Joadel Concepcion, who you heard at the top of the show, came to Canada from the Philippines in 1995. She first worked as a nanny and then took some courses and became a registered nurse. Soon, she was working in long-term care. And, since 2004, she’s been working at Villa Leonardo Gambin, a long-term care home in Woodbridge, Ontario. The home was built for the nearby Italian community, so in order to be able to care for the residents, Jodel’s learned as much Italian as she could.   [CONCEPCION] So you have to encourage them and say… [speaking Italian]   [ARSHY] Villa Leonardo Gambin is technically a non-profit home, but it’s run by Sienna, one of the largest for-profit long-term care providers. The home would have pandemic preparedness training every year and Joadel was one of the people tasked with ensuring that people’s masks fit properly. By early March of this year, Joadel was getting more and more worried about COVID-19. She’d had family members who had gotten SARS, and she knew how scary things could get. And she says that, early on, it became clear that the staff weren’t going to get the proper personal protective equipment. By mid-March, the doctor who used to come do rounds refused to enter the building.     [CONCEPCION] They don’t do rounds in the building because they know that the administrator is not giving him PPE. Dr. Bujon will only do OTN with me using my cell phone to see his patients from the middle of March, or almost third week of March.   [ARSHY] By the weekend of March 27th, some of the residents on Joadel’s floor started coming down with COVID-19 symptoms, like fevers and coughs. And the staff started to ask management for masks.    [CONCEPCION] When are they giving us mass? This resident is coughing. We don’t have enough masks. We’re talking about surgical masks, okay? She says, “I gave you guys. If you finish it, that’s your problem.” That’s always her comment. Everybody knew that.    [ARSHY] And because Joadel is the union steward, staff started to come to her, saying that they were short on PPE. But Joadel says that when she took those concerns to management, they were just brushed off.   [CONCEPCION] What? Did I told you to talk to me? I told her to talk to me. Why she’s telling you? I said, no, she’s telling me now, because I’m the union steward. It’s my responsibility to follow up. So then she says, “Well, the public health say that you have to wear masks.”   [ARSHY] A spokesperson for Sienna denied that staff at Villa Leonardo Gambin were ever told not to wear PPE, especially when they were supporting residents displaying respiratory flu-like symptoms. Over the next few days, a number of residents started to experience upper respiratory issues, a telltale COVID-19 symptom.    [CONCEPCION] And some staff, they put on their own from their home. They would get mad at you.   [ARSHY] Joadel says that the message from management was clear. Because Public Health Ontario had yet to mandate it, no one had to wear a mask. And so they weren’t going to be provided any. Joanna Bulatao says that it was very difficult for staff members to get PPE.   [BULATAO] I don’t think that they were prepared for that to spread to other floors, because when it did, it didn’t really feel, like, that we had as much supplies and they felt like we were, like, pulling teeth to get, like, the supplies because we were running low in the home.   [ARSHY] The staff continued to work in close proximity to each other and to provide bedside care. And all the while, residents were moving around the facility.    [CONCEPCION] They’re in the rooms, but they come out. They’re wandering. What are you going to do, tie them on their beds? You’re going to lose your job.   [ARSHY] On March 28, Joadel says that managers asked her to test a number of residents for COVID-19, even though it wasn’t her job. She wasn’t given the proper PPE, but she did it anyways. The next day, another nurse came down with a fever. And within a week, Joadel came down with one, too. That same day, she heard that one of the residents she had tested was now positive.  Within another week, Joadel Concepcion was in the emergency room at Scarborough Grace Hospital, convinced that she was going to die.    [CONCEPCION] I have a lot of diarrhea, vomiting, and so my potassium is low. My heart arrhythmia acted up. I developed congestive heart failure. I had COVID-19 pneumonia.   [ARSHY] Joadel prayed to God that she would survive and be able to spend time with her family.    [CONCEPCION] I’m not a perfect human being. Just give me another chance to live. I still want to see my son get married and have grandkids. And, you know, um, He has to give me another chance to live again. But you know, Arshy, I was… I was just praying. And I just prayed and I said, “God…” And you’re making me cry. [indistinct] It’s so sad.   [ARSHY] But during that time, she couldn’t help but feel betrayed. She had thought that her managers were her friends, that they looked out for her.   [CONCEPCION] I work… I worked with these managers for many years. And I… I… I’m not nobody to them. And then they… Just to give me the N95. They says there’s no supply.   [ARSHY] While she was sitting in that hospital bed recovering, Joedel was amazed by what she saw around her. The protocols, the protections in the hospital were nothing like  in long-term care.    [CONCEPCION] When I was in Scarborough Grace, they disinfect. They come to my room three times, the full shift, the whole day, to take the garbage. Do proper disinfection. They’re wearing double masks, one N95 and the surgical mask under facial, and double gowns, and three pairs of gloves. In long term care, you share everything. They don’t do proper disinfection from the beginning before the COVID. How about now?   [ARSHY] At least twelve residents of Villa Leonardo Gambin have died of COVID-19. And, according to Joadel, 31 employees, including herself, have been infected with the coronavirus. She says that the last staff member who got sick was on May 17the, a month and a half after the outbreak began.  We reached out to Sienna for comment about all of this, and, in an emailed statement, they said that throughout the pandemic, their highest priority has been to ensure the safety of their team members and residents. They say that they ensured ample supplies of PPE were available, including N95 masks, and that charge nurses have access to the residence’s storage room to ensure that team members can acquire new PPE at all times. According to Sienna, team members were encouraged to wear PPE provided by the home, instead of their own, to ensure it met the appropriate standard, and they thanked their team members for their heroic work and their ongoing dedication throughout this pandemic.   OUTRO [ARSHY] As the COVID-19 outbreak was sweeping through the long-term care facility where she worked, Joanna Bulatao was scared.   [BULATAO] It was horrible. <laughs> I mean, it’s like a whole internal battle with yourself because it’s like you want to go into work, you want to help yourself. You want to help your residents. Like, you want to be there and–and do your job. Like, you want to actually help them. But obviously, at the back of your mind, you’re always thinking, like, “Oh, my God, what if I get sick? Like, what if I bring this home to my family? What if I…” You know, “What if I… What if I’m a carrier?”   [ARSHY] And like so many of her colleagues, she became infected and had to stop coming into work.   [BULATAO] As a nurse, I want to be helping. I want to be there. I want to give as much as I can during, like, these difficult times. And knowing that I can’t, and knowing that as I want to, I can’t do anything about it. It’s really frustrating. And it really takes a toll on, like, mental health. And it’s just the worst feeling ever.   [ARSHY] But what got to her the most was that so many of the people she was charged with caring for are now dead. She was stationed on the floor that lost the most residents.     [BULATAO] It was honestly the hardest thing. When I found out that, like, residents were starting to pass on a unit, it was… Either I was breaking down on–on the phone when someone was telling me or I was trying to, like, hold it together. And, it’s just because you build that relationship with them. You remember all of the memories that you have with them. And then to just think that, like, “Oh, well, that’s all you have now, are just memories.” It’s… It’s very hard. Very hard.   [ARSHY] Lisa Burke was lucky enough to not become infected with the coronavirus. But she is frustrated by the state of long-term care. And she thinks enough is enough.    [BURKE] We’ve been… Us, like, in the union, have been yelling, like, “We need more help, we need more staff, we need more of this.” Like, you guys need to come in and regulate more things. And I just think it’s–it’s very, very sad that a pandemic has to show the world what we’ve been shouting for many, many years now.  We are the backbone of the healthcare system, and a lot of people just don’t see the hard work and the dedication of long-term care employees.   END CREDITS [ARSHY] That’s your episode of Commons for the week. If you want to support us, click on the link in your show notes or go to commonspodcast.com This episode relied on work done by Naomi Lightman, Zaid Noorsumar, Tamara Daly, Pat Armstrong and Nora Loreto. If you want to get in touch with us, you can tweet at us at @COMMONSpod. You can also email me, Arshy@canadalandshow.com This episode was produced by me and Jordan Cornish, with additional production by Tiffany Lam. Our managing editor is Andréa Schmidt. And our music is by Nathan Burley.  If you like what we do, please help us make this show. Click on the link in your shownotes or go to commonspodcast.com   I think you should be getting our newsletterGet a weekly note about our top stories.This is a good thing that we do. You'll like this.johnsmith@example.comSign UpForm is being submitted, please wait a bit.Please fill out all required fields.
July 4, 2017
78
Guy Caron, Guaranteed Income And Climate Refugees
Support us at commonspodcast.com Long-term care workers are in the vanguard in the war against COVID-19. They’re not the kinds of workers who get movies or TV shows made about them. In fact, their stories are rarely told. But not only are they battling heroically against this pandemic. They’re fighting for recognition and respect within a system built to marginalize them.  COMMONS: Pandemic is currently focusing on how COVID-19 is affecting long-term care in Canada.   Featured in this episode: Joadel Concepcion, Joanna Bulatao, Lisa Burke, Naomi Lightman, Zaid Noorsumar To learn more: “‘We are dropping like flies,’ says Ontario home care nurse” by Zaid Noorsumar in Rank and File “Fear and exhaustion: Working as a PSW in long-term care during the coronavirus” by Alanna Mitchell in Maclean’s “Comparing Care Regimes: Worker Characteristics and Wage Penalties in the Global Care Chain” by Naomi Lightman in Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State & Society   This episode is sponsored by Freshbooks Additional music from Audio Network   TRANSCRIPT:    EPISODE 7 – “THE FRONTLINE”   COLD OPEN [ARSHY MANN] Joadel Concepcion’s been working as a registered nurse in long-term care for almost two decades. And she remembers the last time things seemed this frightening. It was 2003. That was when a different coronavirus was sweeping the world, causing Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or “SARS” for short.    [JOADEL CONCEPCION] During SARS time there is a lot of nurses <indistinct> got sick. Even my sister-in-law, she got sick. We have that fear. Why am I going to have this stress again? We don’t know.   [ARSHY] So when she started feeling feverish in early April, Joadel went out to get tested right away.   [CONCEPCION] My first symptoms started on a Saturday, which is April four. I went right away to Scarborough Grace to get tested. And then when I came back home, I had a little bit of OCD for even from SRS time. So when–when I came home, I took a shower because I thought the fever will just subside.   [ARSHY] But the fever didn’t subside. Instead, the symptoms started to get more intense.   [CONCEPCION] I was coughing. I was vomiting. When my husband give me the food, like… I don’t have an appetite. I don’t smell it and I don’t taste it.   [ARSHY] For a few days, Joadel stayed at home, trying to get rest and stay hydrated. But by April 8, she was having trouble breathing.    [CONCEPCION] My airway’s blocked. I can’t breathe. You want to like raise your chest or trying to catch the air, but you can’t. That’s how I feel.   [ARSHY] She asked her son to drive her to Scarborough Grace Hospital. And when they got to the emergency room, a man was outside screening people and asking them questions.   [CONCEPCION] He was saying, “I have to screen you.” I said, “No, don’t screen me.” And I feel like I’m going to die. I can’t breathe.   [ARSHY] The man tried to determine whether she should come wait in the emergency room.   [CONCEPCION] And I can tell my son and my husband are crying. Yelling at them, “Don’t come near me. Don’t come near me.” So I said to one of the staff, I said, “I’m gonna pass out. Please help me. I have COVID. I’m an RN and I work in long-term care.” That’s all I said. And then they took me right away   [ARSHY] They put her on oxygen. But then they realized she was developing congestive heart failure. So they gave her injections, antibiotics, anti-clotting agents… Luckily, Joadel had gotten there in time. She didn’t die. She’s now out of the hospital and fully recovered.  But a lot of people haven’t been so lucky. Since the beginning of the pandemic, thousands of long-term care workers have come down with COVID-19. And 16 of them have died. I’m Arshy Mann, and from CANADALAND, this is Commons.   PART ONE [ARSHY] In stories about long-term care, the workers are often left out of the picture. It’s the nurses, the personal support workers and so many others in these facilities that really have been on the front-line of this pandemic. But they’re work isn’t viewed as sexy or captivating. After all, people don’t make TV shows or movies about long-term care, like they do with hospitals.  And compared to their counterparts in emergency rooms and critical care units, their frontline labour is often devalued.    [NAOMI LIGHTMAN] And they’re often what we refer to as the three “D”s. So, jobs that are dirty, difficult, and, especially during times of a health pandemic, highly dangerous. My name is Naomi Lightman and I’m an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Calgary. My research focuses on the intersection between gender, migration, race and care work.   [ARSHY] According to her research, it’s clear that these jobs, especially personal support workers who provide a big chunk of the day-to-day care, are occupied by specific kinds of people.    [LIGHTMAN] So this is overwhelmingly a female workforce and it’s very much racialized. When we talk just broadly about racialized women, it doesn’t actually capture it. It’s really specifically two groups that we’re talking about. We’re talking about black women and Filipino women who are, in the case of black women, over two times as likely as white women to be working in these jobs and with Filipino women over three times as likely.   [ARSHY] And the people working in these types of positions are also much more likely to be recent immigrants.    [LIGHTMAN] So, when we look at personal support workers or people working specifically in long term care institutions, these are, in fact, among the most precarious and the lowest wage workers, especially in private institutions.  When we compare them to just the average worker and we’re still controlling for factors like their education and their family structure… So holding these factors constant, we see that there is a 40 percent wage penalty for low-skill care work.   [ARSHY] Naomi Lightman says that this is because caring for people has historically been viewed as, quote-unquote, women’s work.    [LIGHTMAN] And I think as this kind of work has entered the paid labor force, we’ve continued to view it through a lens of work that doesn’t really matter or doesn’t hold the same value to other types of paid work. So, we rely on women who are coming from the Global South to do this work that we don’t want to do, and we continue to view it as labor that doesn’t hold the same value as other kinds of work.   [ARSHY] Lisa Burke is a personal support worker at peopleCare Oakcrossing, a long-term care facility in London, Ontario. Here’s what a typical day looks like for her.    [LISA BURKE] I work straight day-shifts. I work 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. When we get to our unit, we have to come a few minutes early to get a report. There’s usually three to four staff to 32 residents.  We get report. They tell us if there’s anybody who’s been hospitalized, any changes, any med changes, any behaviors, any falls, anything like that. We have two hours to get the 32 residents up, dressed, bathed, hairbrush, teeth in, and into the dining room to be fed for breakfast. Some of these residents are aggressive. Some of the residents are fairly independent. And we just have to help with small things, like picking out their clothes. Some people need total care where they have to be dressed, rolled, changed, use a mechanical lift.  If we have to use a mechanical lift  there has to be a minimum of two people to then get that person up and into their wheelchair. We’re supposed to chart at the same time as getting them ready, which is near impossible. And then we have an hour to feed them breakfast. Most times we don’t get into the dining room exactly when we’re supposed to. We’re usually late because there’s just so much care to be done and we don’t have enough people to do it. And then we have to feed them. We’re only supposed to feed two people at a time. So a lot of people have to wait to get their meal because we can only feed two people at a time. After breakfast, we would have to take them back to their rooms. If we can, get a break in. And then you would start toileting residents. Helping, taking them to activities, changing them. Some people lay down for a nap. Finish some baths. And then you would get people back up, toilet people, and then we’d go for lunch, and feed them lunch, the same thing. And then we have like an hour to get people out of the dining room and then back to the rooms, toilet them, change them, lay them down for a nap, if they need to have a nap, and try to chart and get everything done at the same time.   [ARSHY] Lisa Burke says that her home is always understaffed. And when they ask for more help, management tells them that they don’t have enough funding.    [BURKE] We don’t have enough staff at all to give any of the residents the type of care they need and deserve.   [ARSHY] Zaid Noorsumar is a labour reporter who’s been covering long-term care workers. And he says that, even as the care needs of long-term residents have been growing, staff aren’t getting more of the resources they need.   [ZAID NOORSUMAR] Residents coming into long-term care now have increasingly complex needs and they require a higher level of care, while, at the same time, the staffing ratios have not kept up. They haven’t been increased in accordance with the acuity of patients. So that’s a big factor, and what that means is that staff are constantly rushing. They’re running around. They don’t have the time to spend with residents.   [BURKE] People think that we get paid this giant amount of money and that we’re lazy because we’re complaining that we don’t have enough time or the manpower to do the work. I don’t think they know how physically, mentally, emotionally draining the job actually is.   [ARSHY] Joanna Bulatao agrees. She’s a registered practical nurse at Villa Leonardo Gambin, the same facility that Joedel Concepcion works at.    [JOANNA BULATAO] A lot of our staff, they’re constantly, like… Overwork themselves or, like, they really give their all when they’re providing, like, care to our residents. And it gets very, very tiring, like, especially during now. It does get exhausting. It’s not that we don’t want to provide care. It’s just that we become so drained because we want to help.   [ARSHY] And long-term care workers form close personal bonds with the people they take care of.   [NOORSUMAR] They think of residents as their family members, and they really feel they–they want to provide the best care that they can. In fact, one of the workers that I spoke with, who used to be in home care… I think now she works long-term care. She said, “Mentally, it’s a very draining job. You get attached to your client and then you get frustrated because you know the need for care but they aren’t getting it. Most of us PSWs are the type that, if the client’s having a bad day, it’s hard not to take that with you. And she said, after years and years of not being able to provide health care, she was burned out and she quit. She said, “I started my car and I started crying and I couldn’t stop.” And that’s the day she quit.   [ARSHY] All of the workers we spoke to said the same thing: the people they care for become like family to them.   [BURKE] Even when we have a person who becomes palliative or passes away, a part of us goes with them, too. Like, a lot of the time we’re in the room with them, or with the family. We’re crying with the family. Or even if they’re alone, we’re with them, holding them, as they take their last breath. Like, it’s… It’s like losing a part of your family.    [BULATAO] I think people don’t really realize that, like, when you’re with the same residents, they kind of become like a part of you. Like, they become, like, your–your family. That’s–that’s who we’re taking care of. We’re taking care of them just like we would our grandparents.   PART TWO [ARSHY] Joadel Concepcion, who you heard at the top of the show, came to Canada from the Philippines in 1995. She first worked as a nanny and then took some courses and became a registered nurse. Soon, she was working in long-term care. And, since 2004, she’s been working at Villa Leonardo Gambin, a long-term care home in Woodbridge, Ontario. The home was built for the nearby Italian community, so in order to be able to care for the residents, Jodel’s learned as much Italian as she could.   [CONCEPCION] So you have to encourage them and say… [speaking Italian]   [ARSHY] Villa Leonardo Gambin is technically a non-profit home, but it’s run by Sienna, one of the largest for-profit long-term care providers. The home would have pandemic preparedness training every year and Joadel was one of the people tasked with ensuring that people’s masks fit properly. By early March of this year, Joadel was getting more and more worried about COVID-19. She’d had family members who had gotten SARS, and she knew how scary things could get. And she says that, early on, it became clear that the staff weren’t going to get the proper personal protective equipment. By mid-March, the doctor who used to come do rounds refused to enter the building.     [CONCEPCION] They don’t do rounds in the building because they know that the administrator is not giving him PPE. Dr. Bujon will only do OTN with me using my cell phone to see his patients from the middle of March, or almost third week of March.   [ARSHY] By the weekend of March 27th, some of the residents on Joadel’s floor started coming down with COVID-19 symptoms, like fevers and coughs. And the staff started to ask management for masks.    [CONCEPCION] When are they giving us mass? This resident is coughing. We don’t have enough masks. We’re talking about surgical masks, okay? She says, “I gave you guys. If you finish it, that’s your problem.” That’s always her comment. Everybody knew that.    [ARSHY] And because Joadel is the union steward, staff started to come to her, saying that they were short on PPE. But Joadel says that when she took those concerns to management, they were just brushed off.   [CONCEPCION] What? Did I told you to talk to me? I told her to talk to me. Why she’s telling you? I said, no, she’s telling me now, because I’m the union steward. It’s my responsibility to follow up. So then she says, “Well, the public health say that you have to wear masks.”   [ARSHY] A spokesperson for Sienna denied that staff at Villa Leonardo Gambin were ever told not to wear PPE, especially when they were supporting residents displaying respiratory flu-like symptoms. Over the next few days, a number of residents started to experience upper respiratory issues, a telltale COVID-19 symptom.    [CONCEPCION] And some staff, they put on their own from their home. They would get mad at you.   [ARSHY] Joadel says that the message from management was clear. Because Public Health Ontario had yet to mandate it, no one had to wear a mask. And so they weren’t going to be provided any. Joanna Bulatao says that it was very difficult for staff members to get PPE.   [BULATAO] I don’t think that they were prepared for that to spread to other floors, because when it did, it didn’t really feel, like, that we had as much supplies and they felt like we were, like, pulling teeth to get, like, the supplies because we were running low in the home.   [ARSHY] The staff continued to work in close proximity to each other and to provide bedside care. And all the while, residents were moving around the facility.    [CONCEPCION] They’re in the rooms, but they come out. They’re wandering. What are you going to do, tie them on their beds? You’re going to lose your job.   [ARSHY] On March 28, Joadel says that managers asked her to test a number of residents for COVID-19, even though it wasn’t her job. She wasn’t given the proper PPE, but she did it anyways. The next day, another nurse came down with a fever. And within a week, Joadel came down with one, too. That same day, she heard that one of the residents she had tested was now positive.  Within another week, Joadel Concepcion was in the emergency room at Scarborough Grace Hospital, convinced that she was going to die.    [CONCEPCION] I have a lot of diarrhea, vomiting, and so my potassium is low. My heart arrhythmia acted up. I developed congestive heart failure. I had COVID-19 pneumonia.   [ARSHY] Joadel prayed to God that she would survive and be able to spend time with her family.    [CONCEPCION] I’m not a perfect human being. Just give me another chance to live. I still want to see my son get married and have grandkids. And, you know, um, He has to give me another chance to live again. But you know, Arshy, I was… I was just praying. And I just prayed and I said, “God…” And you’re making me cry. [indistinct] It’s so sad.   [ARSHY] But during that time, she couldn’t help but feel betrayed. She had thought that her managers were her friends, that they looked out for her.   [CONCEPCION] I work… I worked with these managers for many years. And I… I… I’m not nobody to them. And then they… Just to give me the N95. They says there’s no supply.   [ARSHY] While she was sitting in that hospital bed recovering, Joedel was amazed by what she saw around her. The protocols, the protections in the hospital were nothing like  in long-term care.    [CONCEPCION] When I was in Scarborough Grace, they disinfect. They come to my room three times, the full shift, the whole day, to take the garbage. Do proper disinfection. They’re wearing double masks, one N95 and the surgical mask under facial, and double gowns, and three pairs of gloves. In long term care, you share everything. They don’t do proper disinfection from the beginning before the COVID. How about now?   [ARSHY] At least twelve residents of Villa Leonardo Gambin have died of COVID-19. And, according to Joadel, 31 employees, including herself, have been infected with the coronavirus. She says that the last staff member who got sick was on May 17the, a month and a half after the outbreak began.  We reached out to Sienna for comment about all of this, and, in an emailed statement, they said that throughout the pandemic, their highest priority has been to ensure the safety of their team members and residents. They say that they ensured ample supplies of PPE were available, including N95 masks, and that charge nurses have access to the residence’s storage room to ensure that team members can acquire new PPE at all times. According to Sienna, team members were encouraged to wear PPE provided by the home, instead of their own, to ensure it met the appropriate standard, and they thanked their team members for their heroic work and their ongoing dedication throughout this pandemic.   OUTRO [ARSHY] As the COVID-19 outbreak was sweeping through the long-term care facility where she worked, Joanna Bulatao was scared.   [BULATAO] It was horrible. <laughs> I mean, it’s like a whole internal battle with yourself because it’s like you want to go into work, you want to help yourself. You want to help your residents. Like, you want to be there and–and do your job. Like, you want to actually help them. But obviously, at the back of your mind, you’re always thinking, like, “Oh, my God, what if I get sick? Like, what if I bring this home to my family? What if I…” You know, “What if I… What if I’m a carrier?”   [ARSHY] And like so many of her colleagues, she became infected and had to stop coming into work.   [BULATAO] As a nurse, I want to be helping. I want to be there. I want to give as much as I can during, like, these difficult times. And knowing that I can’t, and knowing that as I want to, I can’t do anything about it. It’s really frustrating. And it really takes a toll on, like, mental health. And it’s just the worst feeling ever.   [ARSHY] But what got to her the most was that so many of the people she was charged with caring for are now dead. She was stationed on the floor that lost the most residents.     [BULATAO] It was honestly the hardest thing. When I found out that, like, residents were starting to pass on a unit, it was… Either I was breaking down on–on the phone when someone was telling me or I was trying to, like, hold it together. And, it’s just because you build that relationship with them. You remember all of the memories that you have with them. And then to just think that, like, “Oh, well, that’s all you have now, are just memories.” It’s… It’s very hard. Very hard.   [ARSHY] Lisa Burke was lucky enough to not become infected with the coronavirus. But she is frustrated by the state of long-term care. And she thinks enough is enough.    [BURKE] We’ve been… Us, like, in the union, have been yelling, like, “We need more help, we need more staff, we need more of this.” Like, you guys need to come in and regulate more things. And I just think it’s–it’s very, very sad that a pandemic has to show the world what we’ve been shouting for many, many years now.  We are the backbone of the healthcare system, and a lot of people just don’t see the hard work and the dedication of long-term care employees.   END CREDITS [ARSHY] That’s your episode of Commons for the week. If you want to support us, click on the link in your show notes or go to commonspodcast.com This episode relied on work done by Naomi Lightman, Zaid Noorsumar, Tamara Daly, Pat Armstrong and Nora Loreto. If you want to get in touch with us, you can tweet at us at @COMMONSpod. You can also email me, Arshy@canadalandshow.com This episode was produced by me and Jordan Cornish, with additional production by Tiffany Lam. Our managing editor is Andréa Schmidt. And our music is by Nathan Burley.  If you like what we do, please help us make this show. Click on the link in your shownotes or go to commonspodcast.com   I think you should be getting our newsletterGet a weekly note about our top stories.This is a good thing that we do. You'll like this.johnsmith@example.comSign UpForm is being submitted, please wait a bit.Please fill out all required fields.
September 12, 2017
79
Ashton, Angus & Singh – Oh My!
Support us at commonspodcast.com Long-term care workers are in the vanguard in the war against COVID-19. They’re not the kinds of workers who get movies or TV shows made about them. In fact, their stories are rarely told. But not only are they battling heroically against this pandemic. They’re fighting for recognition and respect within a system built to marginalize them.  COMMONS: Pandemic is currently focusing on how COVID-19 is affecting long-term care in Canada.   Featured in this episode: Joadel Concepcion, Joanna Bulatao, Lisa Burke, Naomi Lightman, Zaid Noorsumar To learn more: “‘We are dropping like flies,’ says Ontario home care nurse” by Zaid Noorsumar in Rank and File “Fear and exhaustion: Working as a PSW in long-term care during the coronavirus” by Alanna Mitchell in Maclean’s “Comparing Care Regimes: Worker Characteristics and Wage Penalties in the Global Care Chain” by Naomi Lightman in Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State & Society   This episode is sponsored by Freshbooks Additional music from Audio Network   TRANSCRIPT:    EPISODE 7 – “THE FRONTLINE”   COLD OPEN [ARSHY MANN] Joadel Concepcion’s been working as a registered nurse in long-term care for almost two decades. And she remembers the last time things seemed this frightening. It was 2003. That was when a different coronavirus was sweeping the world, causing Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or “SARS” for short.    [JOADEL CONCEPCION] During SARS time there is a lot of nurses <indistinct> got sick. Even my sister-in-law, she got sick. We have that fear. Why am I going to have this stress again? We don’t know.   [ARSHY] So when she started feeling feverish in early April, Joadel went out to get tested right away.   [CONCEPCION] My first symptoms started on a Saturday, which is April four. I went right away to Scarborough Grace to get tested. And then when I came back home, I had a little bit of OCD for even from SRS time. So when–when I came home, I took a shower because I thought the fever will just subside.   [ARSHY] But the fever didn’t subside. Instead, the symptoms started to get more intense.   [CONCEPCION] I was coughing. I was vomiting. When my husband give me the food, like… I don’t have an appetite. I don’t smell it and I don’t taste it.   [ARSHY] For a few days, Joadel stayed at home, trying to get rest and stay hydrated. But by April 8, she was having trouble breathing.    [CONCEPCION] My airway’s blocked. I can’t breathe. You want to like raise your chest or trying to catch the air, but you can’t. That’s how I feel.   [ARSHY] She asked her son to drive her to Scarborough Grace Hospital. And when they got to the emergency room, a man was outside screening people and asking them questions.   [CONCEPCION] He was saying, “I have to screen you.” I said, “No, don’t screen me.” And I feel like I’m going to die. I can’t breathe.   [ARSHY] The man tried to determine whether she should come wait in the emergency room.   [CONCEPCION] And I can tell my son and my husband are crying. Yelling at them, “Don’t come near me. Don’t come near me.” So I said to one of the staff, I said, “I’m gonna pass out. Please help me. I have COVID. I’m an RN and I work in long-term care.” That’s all I said. And then they took me right away   [ARSHY] They put her on oxygen. But then they realized she was developing congestive heart failure. So they gave her injections, antibiotics, anti-clotting agents… Luckily, Joadel had gotten there in time. She didn’t die. She’s now out of the hospital and fully recovered.  But a lot of people haven’t been so lucky. Since the beginning of the pandemic, thousands of long-term care workers have come down with COVID-19. And 16 of them have died. I’m Arshy Mann, and from CANADALAND, this is Commons.   PART ONE [ARSHY] In stories about long-term care, the workers are often left out of the picture. It’s the nurses, the personal support workers and so many others in these facilities that really have been on the front-line of this pandemic. But they’re work isn’t viewed as sexy or captivating. After all, people don’t make TV shows or movies about long-term care, like they do with hospitals.  And compared to their counterparts in emergency rooms and critical care units, their frontline labour is often devalued.    [NAOMI LIGHTMAN] And they’re often what we refer to as the three “D”s. So, jobs that are dirty, difficult, and, especially during times of a health pandemic, highly dangerous. My name is Naomi Lightman and I’m an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Calgary. My research focuses on the intersection between gender, migration, race and care work.   [ARSHY] According to her research, it’s clear that these jobs, especially personal support workers who provide a big chunk of the day-to-day care, are occupied by specific kinds of people.    [LIGHTMAN] So this is overwhelmingly a female workforce and it’s very much racialized. When we talk just broadly about racialized women, it doesn’t actually capture it. It’s really specifically two groups that we’re talking about. We’re talking about black women and Filipino women who are, in the case of black women, over two times as likely as white women to be working in these jobs and with Filipino women over three times as likely.   [ARSHY] And the people working in these types of positions are also much more likely to be recent immigrants.    [LIGHTMAN] So, when we look at personal support workers or people working specifically in long term care institutions, these are, in fact, among the most precarious and the lowest wage workers, especially in private institutions.  When we compare them to just the average worker and we’re still controlling for factors like their education and their family structure… So holding these factors constant, we see that there is a 40 percent wage penalty for low-skill care work.   [ARSHY] Naomi Lightman says that this is because caring for people has historically been viewed as, quote-unquote, women’s work.    [LIGHTMAN] And I think as this kind of work has entered the paid labor force, we’ve continued to view it through a lens of work that doesn’t really matter or doesn’t hold the same value to other types of paid work. So, we rely on women who are coming from the Global South to do this work that we don’t want to do, and we continue to view it as labor that doesn’t hold the same value as other kinds of work.   [ARSHY] Lisa Burke is a personal support worker at peopleCare Oakcrossing, a long-term care facility in London, Ontario. Here’s what a typical day looks like for her.    [LISA BURKE] I work straight day-shifts. I work 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. When we get to our unit, we have to come a few minutes early to get a report. There’s usually three to four staff to 32 residents.  We get report. They tell us if there’s anybody who’s been hospitalized, any changes, any med changes, any behaviors, any falls, anything like that. We have two hours to get the 32 residents up, dressed, bathed, hairbrush, teeth in, and into the dining room to be fed for breakfast. Some of these residents are aggressive. Some of the residents are fairly independent. And we just have to help with small things, like picking out their clothes. Some people need total care where they have to be dressed, rolled, changed, use a mechanical lift.  If we have to use a mechanical lift  there has to be a minimum of two people to then get that person up and into their wheelchair. We’re supposed to chart at the same time as getting them ready, which is near impossible. And then we have an hour to feed them breakfast. Most times we don’t get into the dining room exactly when we’re supposed to. We’re usually late because there’s just so much care to be done and we don’t have enough people to do it. And then we have to feed them. We’re only supposed to feed two people at a time. So a lot of people have to wait to get their meal because we can only feed two people at a time. After breakfast, we would have to take them back to their rooms. If we can, get a break in. And then you would start toileting residents. Helping, taking them to activities, changing them. Some people lay down for a nap. Finish some baths. And then you would get people back up, toilet people, and then we’d go for lunch, and feed them lunch, the same thing. And then we have like an hour to get people out of the dining room and then back to the rooms, toilet them, change them, lay them down for a nap, if they need to have a nap, and try to chart and get everything done at the same time.   [ARSHY] Lisa Burke says that her home is always understaffed. And when they ask for more help, management tells them that they don’t have enough funding.    [BURKE] We don’t have enough staff at all to give any of the residents the type of care they need and deserve.   [ARSHY] Zaid Noorsumar is a labour reporter who’s been covering long-term care workers. And he says that, even as the care needs of long-term residents have been growing, staff aren’t getting more of the resources they need.   [ZAID NOORSUMAR] Residents coming into long-term care now have increasingly complex needs and they require a higher level of care, while, at the same time, the staffing ratios have not kept up. They haven’t been increased in accordance with the acuity of patients. So that’s a big factor, and what that means is that staff are constantly rushing. They’re running around. They don’t have the time to spend with residents.   [BURKE] People think that we get paid this giant amount of money and that we’re lazy because we’re complaining that we don’t have enough time or the manpower to do the work. I don’t think they know how physically, mentally, emotionally draining the job actually is.   [ARSHY] Joanna Bulatao agrees. She’s a registered practical nurse at Villa Leonardo Gambin, the same facility that Joedel Concepcion works at.    [JOANNA BULATAO] A lot of our staff, they’re constantly, like… Overwork themselves or, like, they really give their all when they’re providing, like, care to our residents. And it gets very, very tiring, like, especially during now. It does get exhausting. It’s not that we don’t want to provide care. It’s just that we become so drained because we want to help.   [ARSHY] And long-term care workers form close personal bonds with the people they take care of.   [NOORSUMAR] They think of residents as their family members, and they really feel they–they want to provide the best care that they can. In fact, one of the workers that I spoke with, who used to be in home care… I think now she works long-term care. She said, “Mentally, it’s a very draining job. You get attached to your client and then you get frustrated because you know the need for care but they aren’t getting it. Most of us PSWs are the type that, if the client’s having a bad day, it’s hard not to take that with you. And she said, after years and years of not being able to provide health care, she was burned out and she quit. She said, “I started my car and I started crying and I couldn’t stop.” And that’s the day she quit.   [ARSHY] All of the workers we spoke to said the same thing: the people they care for become like family to them.   [BURKE] Even when we have a person who becomes palliative or passes away, a part of us goes with them, too. Like, a lot of the time we’re in the room with them, or with the family. We’re crying with the family. Or even if they’re alone, we’re with them, holding them, as they take their last breath. Like, it’s… It’s like losing a part of your family.    [BULATAO] I think people don’t really realize that, like, when you’re with the same residents, they kind of become like a part of you. Like, they become, like, your–your family. That’s–that’s who we’re taking care of. We’re taking care of them just like we would our grandparents.   PART TWO [ARSHY] Joadel Concepcion, who you heard at the top of the show, came to Canada from the Philippines in 1995. She first worked as a nanny and then took some courses and became a registered nurse. Soon, she was working in long-term care. And, since 2004, she’s been working at Villa Leonardo Gambin, a long-term care home in Woodbridge, Ontario. The home was built for the nearby Italian community, so in order to be able to care for the residents, Jodel’s learned as much Italian as she could.   [CONCEPCION] So you have to encourage them and say… [speaking Italian]   [ARSHY] Villa Leonardo Gambin is technically a non-profit home, but it’s run by Sienna, one of the largest for-profit long-term care providers. The home would have pandemic preparedness training every year and Joadel was one of the people tasked with ensuring that people’s masks fit properly. By early March of this year, Joadel was getting more and more worried about COVID-19. She’d had family members who had gotten SARS, and she knew how scary things could get. And she says that, early on, it became clear that the staff weren’t going to get the proper personal protective equipment. By mid-March, the doctor who used to come do rounds refused to enter the building.     [CONCEPCION] They don’t do rounds in the building because they know that the administrator is not giving him PPE. Dr. Bujon will only do OTN with me using my cell phone to see his patients from the middle of March, or almost third week of March.   [ARSHY] By the weekend of March 27th, some of the residents on Joadel’s floor started coming down with COVID-19 symptoms, like fevers and coughs. And the staff started to ask management for masks.    [CONCEPCION] When are they giving us mass? This resident is coughing. We don’t have enough masks. We’re talking about surgical masks, okay? She says, “I gave you guys. If you finish it, that’s your problem.” That’s always her comment. Everybody knew that.    [ARSHY] And because Joadel is the union steward, staff started to come to her, saying that they were short on PPE. But Joadel says that when she took those concerns to management, they were just brushed off.   [CONCEPCION] What? Did I told you to talk to me? I told her to talk to me. Why she’s telling you? I said, no, she’s telling me now, because I’m the union steward. It’s my responsibility to follow up. So then she says, “Well, the public health say that you have to wear masks.”   [ARSHY] A spokesperson for Sienna denied that staff at Villa Leonardo Gambin were ever told not to wear PPE, especially when they were supporting residents displaying respiratory flu-like symptoms. Over the next few days, a number of residents started to experience upper respiratory issues, a telltale COVID-19 symptom.    [CONCEPCION] And some staff, they put on their own from their home. They would get mad at you.   [ARSHY] Joadel says that the message from management was clear. Because Public Health Ontario had yet to mandate it, no one had to wear a mask. And so they weren’t going to be provided any. Joanna Bulatao says that it was very difficult for staff members to get PPE.   [BULATAO] I don’t think that they were prepared for that to spread to other floors, because when it did, it didn’t really feel, like, that we had as much supplies and they felt like we were, like, pulling teeth to get, like, the supplies because we were running low in the home.   [ARSHY] The staff continued to work in close proximity to each other and to provide bedside care. And all the while, residents were moving around the facility.    [CONCEPCION] They’re in the rooms, but they come out. They’re wandering. What are you going to do, tie them on their beds? You’re going to lose your job.   [ARSHY] On March 28, Joadel says that managers asked her to test a number of residents for COVID-19, even though it wasn’t her job. She wasn’t given the proper PPE, but she did it anyways. The next day, another nurse came down with a fever. And within a week, Joadel came down with one, too. That same day, she heard that one of the residents she had tested was now positive.  Within another week, Joadel Concepcion was in the emergency room at Scarborough Grace Hospital, convinced that she was going to die.    [CONCEPCION] I have a lot of diarrhea, vomiting, and so my potassium is low. My heart arrhythmia acted up. I developed congestive heart failure. I had COVID-19 pneumonia.   [ARSHY] Joadel prayed to God that she would survive and be able to spend time with her family.    [CONCEPCION] I’m not a perfect human being. Just give me another chance to live. I still want to see my son get married and have grandkids. And, you know, um, He has to give me another chance to live again. But you know, Arshy, I was… I was just praying. And I just prayed and I said, “God…” And you’re making me cry. [indistinct] It’s so sad.   [ARSHY] But during that time, she couldn’t help but feel betrayed. She had thought that her managers were her friends, that they looked out for her.   [CONCEPCION] I work… I worked with these managers for many years. And I… I… I’m not nobody to them. And then they… Just to give me the N95. They says there’s no supply.   [ARSHY] While she was sitting in that hospital bed recovering, Joedel was amazed by what she saw around her. The protocols, the protections in the hospital were nothing like  in long-term care.    [CONCEPCION] When I was in Scarborough Grace, they disinfect. They come to my room three times, the full shift, the whole day, to take the garbage. Do proper disinfection. They’re wearing double masks, one N95 and the surgical mask under facial, and double gowns, and three pairs of gloves. In long term care, you share everything. They don’t do proper disinfection from the beginning before the COVID. How about now?   [ARSHY] At least twelve residents of Villa Leonardo Gambin have died of COVID-19. And, according to Joadel, 31 employees, including herself, have been infected with the coronavirus. She says that the last staff member who got sick was on May 17the, a month and a half after the outbreak began.  We reached out to Sienna for comment about all of this, and, in an emailed statement, they said that throughout the pandemic, their highest priority has been to ensure the safety of their team members and residents. They say that they ensured ample supplies of PPE were available, including N95 masks, and that charge nurses have access to the residence’s storage room to ensure that team members can acquire new PPE at all times. According to Sienna, team members were encouraged to wear PPE provided by the home, instead of their own, to ensure it met the appropriate standard, and they thanked their team members for their heroic work and their ongoing dedication throughout this pandemic.   OUTRO [ARSHY] As the COVID-19 outbreak was sweeping through the long-term care facility where she worked, Joanna Bulatao was scared.   [BULATAO] It was horrible. <laughs> I mean, it’s like a whole internal battle with yourself because it’s like you want to go into work, you want to help yourself. You want to help your residents. Like, you want to be there and–and do your job. Like, you want to actually help them. But obviously, at the back of your mind, you’re always thinking, like, “Oh, my God, what if I get sick? Like, what if I bring this home to my family? What if I…” You know, “What if I… What if I’m a carrier?”   [ARSHY] And like so many of her colleagues, she became infected and had to stop coming into work.   [BULATAO] As a nurse, I want to be helping. I want to be there. I want to give as much as I can during, like, these difficult times. And knowing that I can’t, and knowing that as I want to, I can’t do anything about it. It’s really frustrating. And it really takes a toll on, like, mental health. And it’s just the worst feeling ever.   [ARSHY] But what got to her the most was that so many of the people she was charged with caring for are now dead. She was stationed on the floor that lost the most residents.     [BULATAO] It was honestly the hardest thing. When I found out that, like, residents were starting to pass on a unit, it was… Either I was breaking down on–on the phone when someone was telling me or I was trying to, like, hold it together. And, it’s just because you build that relationship with them. You remember all of the memories that you have with them. And then to just think that, like, “Oh, well, that’s all you have now, are just memories.” It’s… It’s very hard. Very hard.   [ARSHY] Lisa Burke was lucky enough to not become infected with the coronavirus. But she is frustrated by the state of long-term care. And she thinks enough is enough.    [BURKE] We’ve been… Us, like, in the union, have been yelling, like, “We need more help, we need more staff, we need more of this.” Like, you guys need to come in and regulate more things. And I just think it’s–it’s very, very sad that a pandemic has to show the world what we’ve been shouting for many, many years now.  We are the backbone of the healthcare system, and a lot of people just don’t see the hard work and the dedication of long-term care employees.   END CREDITS [ARSHY] That’s your episode of Commons for the week. If you want to support us, click on the link in your show notes or go to commonspodcast.com This episode relied on work done by Naomi Lightman, Zaid Noorsumar, Tamara Daly, Pat Armstrong and Nora Loreto. If you want to get in touch with us, you can tweet at us at @COMMONSpod. You can also email me, Arshy@canadalandshow.com This episode was produced by me and Jordan Cornish, with additional production by Tiffany Lam. Our managing editor is Andréa Schmidt. And our music is by Nathan Burley.  If you like what we do, please help us make this show. Click on the link in your shownotes or go to commonspodcast.com   I think you should be getting our newsletterGet a weekly note about our top stories.This is a good thing that we do. You'll like this.johnsmith@example.comSign UpForm is being submitted, please wait a bit.Please fill out all required fields.
September 26, 2017
80
Why We Need Higher Taxes, A Canadian Mt. Rushmore And A Population Of 100 Million
Support us at commonspodcast.com Long-term care workers are in the vanguard in the war against COVID-19. They’re not the kinds of workers who get movies or TV shows made about them. In fact, their stories are rarely told. But not only are they battling heroically against this pandemic. They’re fighting for recognition and respect within a system built to marginalize them.  COMMONS: Pandemic is currently focusing on how COVID-19 is affecting long-term care in Canada.   Featured in this episode: Joadel Concepcion, Joanna Bulatao, Lisa Burke, Naomi Lightman, Zaid Noorsumar To learn more: “‘We are dropping like flies,’ says Ontario home care nurse” by Zaid Noorsumar in Rank and File “Fear and exhaustion: Working as a PSW in long-term care during the coronavirus” by Alanna Mitchell in Maclean’s “Comparing Care Regimes: Worker Characteristics and Wage Penalties in the Global Care Chain” by Naomi Lightman in Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State & Society   This episode is sponsored by Freshbooks Additional music from Audio Network   TRANSCRIPT:    EPISODE 7 – “THE FRONTLINE”   COLD OPEN [ARSHY MANN] Joadel Concepcion’s been working as a registered nurse in long-term care for almost two decades. And she remembers the last time things seemed this frightening. It was 2003. That was when a different coronavirus was sweeping the world, causing Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or “SARS” for short.    [JOADEL CONCEPCION] During SARS time there is a lot of nurses <indistinct> got sick. Even my sister-in-law, she got sick. We have that fear. Why am I going to have this stress again? We don’t know.   [ARSHY] So when she started feeling feverish in early April, Joadel went out to get tested right away.   [CONCEPCION] My first symptoms started on a Saturday, which is April four. I went right away to Scarborough Grace to get tested. And then when I came back home, I had a little bit of OCD for even from SRS time. So when–when I came home, I took a shower because I thought the fever will just subside.   [ARSHY] But the fever didn’t subside. Instead, the symptoms started to get more intense.   [CONCEPCION] I was coughing. I was vomiting. When my husband give me the food, like… I don’t have an appetite. I don’t smell it and I don’t taste it.   [ARSHY] For a few days, Joadel stayed at home, trying to get rest and stay hydrated. But by April 8, she was having trouble breathing.    [CONCEPCION] My airway’s blocked. I can’t breathe. You want to like raise your chest or trying to catch the air, but you can’t. That’s how I feel.   [ARSHY] She asked her son to drive her to Scarborough Grace Hospital. And when they got to the emergency room, a man was outside screening people and asking them questions.   [CONCEPCION] He was saying, “I have to screen you.” I said, “No, don’t screen me.” And I feel like I’m going to die. I can’t breathe.   [ARSHY] The man tried to determine whether she should come wait in the emergency room.   [CONCEPCION] And I can tell my son and my husband are crying. Yelling at them, “Don’t come near me. Don’t come near me.” So I said to one of the staff, I said, “I’m gonna pass out. Please help me. I have COVID. I’m an RN and I work in long-term care.” That’s all I said. And then they took me right away   [ARSHY] They put her on oxygen. But then they realized she was developing congestive heart failure. So they gave her injections, antibiotics, anti-clotting agents… Luckily, Joadel had gotten there in time. She didn’t die. She’s now out of the hospital and fully recovered.  But a lot of people haven’t been so lucky. Since the beginning of the pandemic, thousands of long-term care workers have come down with COVID-19. And 16 of them have died. I’m Arshy Mann, and from CANADALAND, this is Commons.   PART ONE [ARSHY] In stories about long-term care, the workers are often left out of the picture. It’s the nurses, the personal support workers and so many others in these facilities that really have been on the front-line of this pandemic. But they’re work isn’t viewed as sexy or captivating. After all, people don’t make TV shows or movies about long-term care, like they do with hospitals.  And compared to their counterparts in emergency rooms and critical care units, their frontline labour is often devalued.    [NAOMI LIGHTMAN] And they’re often what we refer to as the three “D”s. So, jobs that are dirty, difficult, and, especially during times of a health pandemic, highly dangerous. My name is Naomi Lightman and I’m an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Calgary. My research focuses on the intersection between gender, migration, race and care work.   [ARSHY] According to her research, it’s clear that these jobs, especially personal support workers who provide a big chunk of the day-to-day care, are occupied by specific kinds of people.    [LIGHTMAN] So this is overwhelmingly a female workforce and it’s very much racialized. When we talk just broadly about racialized women, it doesn’t actually capture it. It’s really specifically two groups that we’re talking about. We’re talking about black women and Filipino women who are, in the case of black women, over two times as likely as white women to be working in these jobs and with Filipino women over three times as likely.   [ARSHY] And the people working in these types of positions are also much more likely to be recent immigrants.    [LIGHTMAN] So, when we look at personal support workers or people working specifically in long term care institutions, these are, in fact, among the most precarious and the lowest wage workers, especially in private institutions.  When we compare them to just the average worker and we’re still controlling for factors like their education and their family structure… So holding these factors constant, we see that there is a 40 percent wage penalty for low-skill care work.   [ARSHY] Naomi Lightman says that this is because caring for people has historically been viewed as, quote-unquote, women’s work.    [LIGHTMAN] And I think as this kind of work has entered the paid labor force, we’ve continued to view it through a lens of work that doesn’t really matter or doesn’t hold the same value to other types of paid work. So, we rely on women who are coming from the Global South to do this work that we don’t want to do, and we continue to view it as labor that doesn’t hold the same value as other kinds of work.   [ARSHY] Lisa Burke is a personal support worker at peopleCare Oakcrossing, a long-term care facility in London, Ontario. Here’s what a typical day looks like for her.    [LISA BURKE] I work straight day-shifts. I work 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. When we get to our unit, we have to come a few minutes early to get a report. There’s usually three to four staff to 32 residents.  We get report. They tell us if there’s anybody who’s been hospitalized, any changes, any med changes, any behaviors, any falls, anything like that. We have two hours to get the 32 residents up, dressed, bathed, hairbrush, teeth in, and into the dining room to be fed for breakfast. Some of these residents are aggressive. Some of the residents are fairly independent. And we just have to help with small things, like picking out their clothes. Some people need total care where they have to be dressed, rolled, changed, use a mechanical lift.  If we have to use a mechanical lift  there has to be a minimum of two people to then get that person up and into their wheelchair. We’re supposed to chart at the same time as getting them ready, which is near impossible. And then we have an hour to feed them breakfast. Most times we don’t get into the dining room exactly when we’re supposed to. We’re usually late because there’s just so much care to be done and we don’t have enough people to do it. And then we have to feed them. We’re only supposed to feed two people at a time. So a lot of people have to wait to get their meal because we can only feed two people at a time. After breakfast, we would have to take them back to their rooms. If we can, get a break in. And then you would start toileting residents. Helping, taking them to activities, changing them. Some people lay down for a nap. Finish some baths. And then you would get people back up, toilet people, and then we’d go for lunch, and feed them lunch, the same thing. And then we have like an hour to get people out of the dining room and then back to the rooms, toilet them, change them, lay them down for a nap, if they need to have a nap, and try to chart and get everything done at the same time.   [ARSHY] Lisa Burke says that her home is always understaffed. And when they ask for more help, management tells them that they don’t have enough funding.    [BURKE] We don’t have enough staff at all to give any of the residents the type of care they need and deserve.   [ARSHY] Zaid Noorsumar is a labour reporter who’s been covering long-term care workers. And he says that, even as the care needs of long-term residents have been growing, staff aren’t getting more of the resources they need.   [ZAID NOORSUMAR] Residents coming into long-term care now have increasingly complex needs and they require a higher level of care, while, at the same time, the staffing ratios have not kept up. They haven’t been increased in accordance with the acuity of patients. So that’s a big factor, and what that means is that staff are constantly rushing. They’re running around. They don’t have the time to spend with residents.   [BURKE] People think that we get paid this giant amount of money and that we’re lazy because we’re complaining that we don’t have enough time or the manpower to do the work. I don’t think they know how physically, mentally, emotionally draining the job actually is.   [ARSHY] Joanna Bulatao agrees. She’s a registered practical nurse at Villa Leonardo Gambin, the same facility that Joedel Concepcion works at.    [JOANNA BULATAO] A lot of our staff, they’re constantly, like… Overwork themselves or, like, they really give their all when they’re providing, like, care to our residents. And it gets very, very tiring, like, especially during now. It does get exhausting. It’s not that we don’t want to provide care. It’s just that we become so drained because we want to help.   [ARSHY] And long-term care workers form close personal bonds with the people they take care of.   [NOORSUMAR] They think of residents as their family members, and they really feel they–they want to provide the best care that they can. In fact, one of the workers that I spoke with, who used to be in home care… I think now she works long-term care. She said, “Mentally, it’s a very draining job. You get attached to your client and then you get frustrated because you know the need for care but they aren’t getting it. Most of us PSWs are the type that, if the client’s having a bad day, it’s hard not to take that with you. And she said, after years and years of not being able to provide health care, she was burned out and she quit. She said, “I started my car and I started crying and I couldn’t stop.” And that’s the day she quit.   [ARSHY] All of the workers we spoke to said the same thing: the people they care for become like family to them.   [BURKE] Even when we have a person who becomes palliative or passes away, a part of us goes with them, too. Like, a lot of the time we’re in the room with them, or with the family. We’re crying with the family. Or even if they’re alone, we’re with them, holding them, as they take their last breath. Like, it’s… It’s like losing a part of your family.    [BULATAO] I think people don’t really realize that, like, when you’re with the same residents, they kind of become like a part of you. Like, they become, like, your–your family. That’s–that’s who we’re taking care of. We’re taking care of them just like we would our grandparents.   PART TWO [ARSHY] Joadel Concepcion, who you heard at the top of the show, came to Canada from the Philippines in 1995. She first worked as a nanny and then took some courses and became a registered nurse. Soon, she was working in long-term care. And, since 2004, she’s been working at Villa Leonardo Gambin, a long-term care home in Woodbridge, Ontario. The home was built for the nearby Italian community, so in order to be able to care for the residents, Jodel’s learned as much Italian as she could.   [CONCEPCION] So you have to encourage them and say… [speaking Italian]   [ARSHY] Villa Leonardo Gambin is technically a non-profit home, but it’s run by Sienna, one of the largest for-profit long-term care providers. The home would have pandemic preparedness training every year and Joadel was one of the people tasked with ensuring that people’s masks fit properly. By early March of this year, Joadel was getting more and more worried about COVID-19. She’d had family members who had gotten SARS, and she knew how scary things could get. And she says that, early on, it became clear that the staff weren’t going to get the proper personal protective equipment. By mid-March, the doctor who used to come do rounds refused to enter the building.     [CONCEPCION] They don’t do rounds in the building because they know that the administrator is not giving him PPE. Dr. Bujon will only do OTN with me using my cell phone to see his patients from the middle of March, or almost third week of March.   [ARSHY] By the weekend of March 27th, some of the residents on Joadel’s floor started coming down with COVID-19 symptoms, like fevers and coughs. And the staff started to ask management for masks.    [CONCEPCION] When are they giving us mass? This resident is coughing. We don’t have enough masks. We’re talking about surgical masks, okay? She says, “I gave you guys. If you finish it, that’s your problem.” That’s always her comment. Everybody knew that.    [ARSHY] And because Joadel is the union steward, staff started to come to her, saying that they were short on PPE. But Joadel says that when she took those concerns to management, they were just brushed off.   [CONCEPCION] What? Did I told you to talk to me? I told her to talk to me. Why she’s telling you? I said, no, she’s telling me now, because I’m the union steward. It’s my responsibility to follow up. So then she says, “Well, the public health say that you have to wear masks.”   [ARSHY] A spokesperson for Sienna denied that staff at Villa Leonardo Gambin were ever told not to wear PPE, especially when they were supporting residents displaying respiratory flu-like symptoms. Over the next few days, a number of residents started to experience upper respiratory issues, a telltale COVID-19 symptom.    [CONCEPCION] And some staff, they put on their own from their home. They would get mad at you.   [ARSHY] Joadel says that the message from management was clear. Because Public Health Ontario had yet to mandate it, no one had to wear a mask. And so they weren’t going to be provided any. Joanna Bulatao says that it was very difficult for staff members to get PPE.   [BULATAO] I don’t think that they were prepared for that to spread to other floors, because when it did, it didn’t really feel, like, that we had as much supplies and they felt like we were, like, pulling teeth to get, like, the supplies because we were running low in the home.   [ARSHY] The staff continued to work in close proximity to each other and to provide bedside care. And all the while, residents were moving around the facility.    [CONCEPCION] They’re in the rooms, but they come out. They’re wandering. What are you going to do, tie them on their beds? You’re going to lose your job.   [ARSHY] On March 28, Joadel says that managers asked her to test a number of residents for COVID-19, even though it wasn’t her job. She wasn’t given the proper PPE, but she did it anyways. The next day, another nurse came down with a fever. And within a week, Joadel came down with one, too. That same day, she heard that one of the residents she had tested was now positive.  Within another week, Joadel Concepcion was in the emergency room at Scarborough Grace Hospital, convinced that she was going to die.    [CONCEPCION] I have a lot of diarrhea, vomiting, and so my potassium is low. My heart arrhythmia acted up. I developed congestive heart failure. I had COVID-19 pneumonia.   [ARSHY] Joadel prayed to God that she would survive and be able to spend time with her family.    [CONCEPCION] I’m not a perfect human being. Just give me another chance to live. I still want to see my son get married and have grandkids. And, you know, um, He has to give me another chance to live again. But you know, Arshy, I was… I was just praying. And I just prayed and I said, “God…” And you’re making me cry. [indistinct] It’s so sad.   [ARSHY] But during that time, she couldn’t help but feel betrayed. She had thought that her managers were her friends, that they looked out for her.   [CONCEPCION] I work… I worked with these managers for many years. And I… I… I’m not nobody to them. And then they… Just to give me the N95. They says there’s no supply.   [ARSHY] While she was sitting in that hospital bed recovering, Joedel was amazed by what she saw around her. The protocols, the protections in the hospital were nothing like  in long-term care.    [CONCEPCION] When I was in Scarborough Grace, they disinfect. They come to my room three times, the full shift, the whole day, to take the garbage. Do proper disinfection. They’re wearing double masks, one N95 and the surgical mask under facial, and double gowns, and three pairs of gloves. In long term care, you share everything. They don’t do proper disinfection from the beginning before the COVID. How about now?   [ARSHY] At least twelve residents of Villa Leonardo Gambin have died of COVID-19. And, according to Joadel, 31 employees, including herself, have been infected with the coronavirus. She says that the last staff member who got sick was on May 17the, a month and a half after the outbreak began.  We reached out to Sienna for comment about all of this, and, in an emailed statement, they said that throughout the pandemic, their highest priority has been to ensure the safety of their team members and residents. They say that they ensured ample supplies of PPE were available, including N95 masks, and that charge nurses have access to the residence’s storage room to ensure that team members can acquire new PPE at all times. According to Sienna, team members were encouraged to wear PPE provided by the home, instead of their own, to ensure it met the appropriate standard, and they thanked their team members for their heroic work and their ongoing dedication throughout this pandemic.   OUTRO [ARSHY] As the COVID-19 outbreak was sweeping through the long-term care facility where she worked, Joanna Bulatao was scared.   [BULATAO] It was horrible. <laughs> I mean, it’s like a whole internal battle with yourself because it’s like you want to go into work, you want to help yourself. You want to help your residents. Like, you want to be there and–and do your job. Like, you want to actually help them. But obviously, at the back of your mind, you’re always thinking, like, “Oh, my God, what if I get sick? Like, what if I bring this home to my family? What if I…” You know, “What if I… What if I’m a carrier?”   [ARSHY] And like so many of her colleagues, she became infected and had to stop coming into work.   [BULATAO] As a nurse, I want to be helping. I want to be there. I want to give as much as I can during, like, these difficult times. And knowing that I can’t, and knowing that as I want to, I can’t do anything about it. It’s really frustrating. And it really takes a toll on, like, mental health. And it’s just the worst feeling ever.   [ARSHY] But what got to her the most was that so many of the people she was charged with caring for are now dead. She was stationed on the floor that lost the most residents.     [BULATAO] It was honestly the hardest thing. When I found out that, like, residents were starting to pass on a unit, it was… Either I was breaking down on–on the phone when someone was telling me or I was trying to, like, hold it together. And, it’s just because you build that relationship with them. You remember all of the memories that you have with them. And then to just think that, like, “Oh, well, that’s all you have now, are just memories.” It’s… It’s very hard. Very hard.   [ARSHY] Lisa Burke was lucky enough to not become infected with the coronavirus. But she is frustrated by the state of long-term care. And she thinks enough is enough.    [BURKE] We’ve been… Us, like, in the union, have been yelling, like, “We need more help, we need more staff, we need more of this.” Like, you guys need to come in and regulate more things. And I just think it’s–it’s very, very sad that a pandemic has to show the world what we’ve been shouting for many, many years now.  We are the backbone of the healthcare system, and a lot of people just don’t see the hard work and the dedication of long-term care employees.   END CREDITS [ARSHY] That’s your episode of Commons for the week. If you want to support us, click on the link in your show notes or go to commonspodcast.com This episode relied on work done by Naomi Lightman, Zaid Noorsumar, Tamara Daly, Pat Armstrong and Nora Loreto. If you want to get in touch with us, you can tweet at us at @COMMONSpod. You can also email me, Arshy@canadalandshow.com This episode was produced by me and Jordan Cornish, with additional production by Tiffany Lam. Our managing editor is Andréa Schmidt. And our music is by Nathan Burley.  If you like what we do, please help us make this show. Click on the link in your shownotes or go to commonspodcast.com   I think you should be getting our newsletterGet a weekly note about our top stories.This is a good thing that we do. You'll like this.johnsmith@example.comSign UpForm is being submitted, please wait a bit.Please fill out all required fields.
October 10, 2017
81
Niqabs & Nafta
Support us at commonspodcast.com Long-term care workers are in the vanguard in the war against COVID-19. They’re not the kinds of workers who get movies or TV shows made about them. In fact, their stories are rarely told. But not only are they battling heroically against this pandemic. They’re fighting for recognition and respect within a system built to marginalize them.  COMMONS: Pandemic is currently focusing on how COVID-19 is affecting long-term care in Canada.   Featured in this episode: Joadel Concepcion, Joanna Bulatao, Lisa Burke, Naomi Lightman, Zaid Noorsumar To learn more: “‘We are dropping like flies,’ says Ontario home care nurse” by Zaid Noorsumar in Rank and File “Fear and exhaustion: Working as a PSW in long-term care during the coronavirus” by Alanna Mitchell in Maclean’s “Comparing Care Regimes: Worker Characteristics and Wage Penalties in the Global Care Chain” by Naomi Lightman in Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State & Society   This episode is sponsored by Freshbooks Additional music from Audio Network   TRANSCRIPT:    EPISODE 7 – “THE FRONTLINE”   COLD OPEN [ARSHY MANN] Joadel Concepcion’s been working as a registered nurse in long-term care for almost two decades. And she remembers the last time things seemed this frightening. It was 2003. That was when a different coronavirus was sweeping the world, causing Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or “SARS” for short.    [JOADEL CONCEPCION] During SARS time there is a lot of nurses <indistinct> got sick. Even my sister-in-law, she got sick. We have that fear. Why am I going to have this stress again? We don’t know.   [ARSHY] So when she started feeling feverish in early April, Joadel went out to get tested right away.   [CONCEPCION] My first symptoms started on a Saturday, which is April four. I went right away to Scarborough Grace to get tested. And then when I came back home, I had a little bit of OCD for even from SRS time. So when–when I came home, I took a shower because I thought the fever will just subside.   [ARSHY] But the fever didn’t subside. Instead, the symptoms started to get more intense.   [CONCEPCION] I was coughing. I was vomiting. When my husband give me the food, like… I don’t have an appetite. I don’t smell it and I don’t taste it.   [ARSHY] For a few days, Joadel stayed at home, trying to get rest and stay hydrated. But by April 8, she was having trouble breathing.    [CONCEPCION] My airway’s blocked. I can’t breathe. You want to like raise your chest or trying to catch the air, but you can’t. That’s how I feel.   [ARSHY] She asked her son to drive her to Scarborough Grace Hospital. And when they got to the emergency room, a man was outside screening people and asking them questions.   [CONCEPCION] He was saying, “I have to screen you.” I said, “No, don’t screen me.” And I feel like I’m going to die. I can’t breathe.   [ARSHY] The man tried to determine whether she should come wait in the emergency room.   [CONCEPCION] And I can tell my son and my husband are crying. Yelling at them, “Don’t come near me. Don’t come near me.” So I said to one of the staff, I said, “I’m gonna pass out. Please help me. I have COVID. I’m an RN and I work in long-term care.” That’s all I said. And then they took me right away   [ARSHY] They put her on oxygen. But then they realized she was developing congestive heart failure. So they gave her injections, antibiotics, anti-clotting agents… Luckily, Joadel had gotten there in time. She didn’t die. She’s now out of the hospital and fully recovered.  But a lot of people haven’t been so lucky. Since the beginning of the pandemic, thousands of long-term care workers have come down with COVID-19. And 16 of them have died. I’m Arshy Mann, and from CANADALAND, this is Commons.   PART ONE [ARSHY] In stories about long-term care, the workers are often left out of the picture. It’s the nurses, the personal support workers and so many others in these facilities that really have been on the front-line of this pandemic. But they’re work isn’t viewed as sexy or captivating. After all, people don’t make TV shows or movies about long-term care, like they do with hospitals.  And compared to their counterparts in emergency rooms and critical care units, their frontline labour is often devalued.    [NAOMI LIGHTMAN] And they’re often what we refer to as the three “D”s. So, jobs that are dirty, difficult, and, especially during times of a health pandemic, highly dangerous. My name is Naomi Lightman and I’m an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Calgary. My research focuses on the intersection between gender, migration, race and care work.   [ARSHY] According to her research, it’s clear that these jobs, especially personal support workers who provide a big chunk of the day-to-day care, are occupied by specific kinds of people.    [LIGHTMAN] So this is overwhelmingly a female workforce and it’s very much racialized. When we talk just broadly about racialized women, it doesn’t actually capture it. It’s really specifically two groups that we’re talking about. We’re talking about black women and Filipino women who are, in the case of black women, over two times as likely as white women to be working in these jobs and with Filipino women over three times as likely.   [ARSHY] And the people working in these types of positions are also much more likely to be recent immigrants.    [LIGHTMAN] So, when we look at personal support workers or people working specifically in long term care institutions, these are, in fact, among the most precarious and the lowest wage workers, especially in private institutions.  When we compare them to just the average worker and we’re still controlling for factors like their education and their family structure… So holding these factors constant, we see that there is a 40 percent wage penalty for low-skill care work.   [ARSHY] Naomi Lightman says that this is because caring for people has historically been viewed as, quote-unquote, women’s work.    [LIGHTMAN] And I think as this kind of work has entered the paid labor force, we’ve continued to view it through a lens of work that doesn’t really matter or doesn’t hold the same value to other types of paid work. So, we rely on women who are coming from the Global South to do this work that we don’t want to do, and we continue to view it as labor that doesn’t hold the same value as other kinds of work.   [ARSHY] Lisa Burke is a personal support worker at peopleCare Oakcrossing, a long-term care facility in London, Ontario. Here’s what a typical day looks like for her.    [LISA BURKE] I work straight day-shifts. I work 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. When we get to our unit, we have to come a few minutes early to get a report. There’s usually three to four staff to 32 residents.  We get report. They tell us if there’s anybody who’s been hospitalized, any changes, any med changes, any behaviors, any falls, anything like that. We have two hours to get the 32 residents up, dressed, bathed, hairbrush, teeth in, and into the dining room to be fed for breakfast. Some of these residents are aggressive. Some of the residents are fairly independent. And we just have to help with small things, like picking out their clothes. Some people need total care where they have to be dressed, rolled, changed, use a mechanical lift.  If we have to use a mechanical lift  there has to be a minimum of two people to then get that person up and into their wheelchair. We’re supposed to chart at the same time as getting them ready, which is near impossible. And then we have an hour to feed them breakfast. Most times we don’t get into the dining room exactly when we’re supposed to. We’re usually late because there’s just so much care to be done and we don’t have enough people to do it. And then we have to feed them. We’re only supposed to feed two people at a time. So a lot of people have to wait to get their meal because we can only feed two people at a time. After breakfast, we would have to take them back to their rooms. If we can, get a break in. And then you would start toileting residents. Helping, taking them to activities, changing them. Some people lay down for a nap. Finish some baths. And then you would get people back up, toilet people, and then we’d go for lunch, and feed them lunch, the same thing. And then we have like an hour to get people out of the dining room and then back to the rooms, toilet them, change them, lay them down for a nap, if they need to have a nap, and try to chart and get everything done at the same time.   [ARSHY] Lisa Burke says that her home is always understaffed. And when they ask for more help, management tells them that they don’t have enough funding.    [BURKE] We don’t have enough staff at all to give any of the residents the type of care they need and deserve.   [ARSHY] Zaid Noorsumar is a labour reporter who’s been covering long-term care workers. And he says that, even as the care needs of long-term residents have been growing, staff aren’t getting more of the resources they need.   [ZAID NOORSUMAR] Residents coming into long-term care now have increasingly complex needs and they require a higher level of care, while, at the same time, the staffing ratios have not kept up. They haven’t been increased in accordance with the acuity of patients. So that’s a big factor, and what that means is that staff are constantly rushing. They’re running around. They don’t have the time to spend with residents.   [BURKE] People think that we get paid this giant amount of money and that we’re lazy because we’re complaining that we don’t have enough time or the manpower to do the work. I don’t think they know how physically, mentally, emotionally draining the job actually is.   [ARSHY] Joanna Bulatao agrees. She’s a registered practical nurse at Villa Leonardo Gambin, the same facility that Joedel Concepcion works at.    [JOANNA BULATAO] A lot of our staff, they’re constantly, like… Overwork themselves or, like, they really give their all when they’re providing, like, care to our residents. And it gets very, very tiring, like, especially during now. It does get exhausting. It’s not that we don’t want to provide care. It’s just that we become so drained because we want to help.   [ARSHY] And long-term care workers form close personal bonds with the people they take care of.   [NOORSUMAR] They think of residents as their family members, and they really feel they–they want to provide the best care that they can. In fact, one of the workers that I spoke with, who used to be in home care… I think now she works long-term care. She said, “Mentally, it’s a very draining job. You get attached to your client and then you get frustrated because you know the need for care but they aren’t getting it. Most of us PSWs are the type that, if the client’s having a bad day, it’s hard not to take that with you. And she said, after years and years of not being able to provide health care, she was burned out and she quit. She said, “I started my car and I started crying and I couldn’t stop.” And that’s the day she quit.   [ARSHY] All of the workers we spoke to said the same thing: the people they care for become like family to them.   [BURKE] Even when we have a person who becomes palliative or passes away, a part of us goes with them, too. Like, a lot of the time we’re in the room with them, or with the family. We’re crying with the family. Or even if they’re alone, we’re with them, holding them, as they take their last breath. Like, it’s… It’s like losing a part of your family.    [BULATAO] I think people don’t really realize that, like, when you’re with the same residents, they kind of become like a part of you. Like, they become, like, your–your family. That’s–that’s who we’re taking care of. We’re taking care of them just like we would our grandparents.   PART TWO [ARSHY] Joadel Concepcion, who you heard at the top of the show, came to Canada from the Philippines in 1995. She first worked as a nanny and then took some courses and became a registered nurse. Soon, she was working in long-term care. And, since 2004, she’s been working at Villa Leonardo Gambin, a long-term care home in Woodbridge, Ontario. The home was built for the nearby Italian community, so in order to be able to care for the residents, Jodel’s learned as much Italian as she could.   [CONCEPCION] So you have to encourage them and say… [speaking Italian]   [ARSHY] Villa Leonardo Gambin is technically a non-profit home, but it’s run by Sienna, one of the largest for-profit long-term care providers. The home would have pandemic preparedness training every year and Joadel was one of the people tasked with ensuring that people’s masks fit properly. By early March of this year, Joadel was getting more and more worried about COVID-19. She’d had family members who had gotten SARS, and she knew how scary things could get. And she says that, early on, it became clear that the staff weren’t going to get the proper personal protective equipment. By mid-March, the doctor who used to come do rounds refused to enter the building.     [CONCEPCION] They don’t do rounds in the building because they know that the administrator is not giving him PPE. Dr. Bujon will only do OTN with me using my cell phone to see his patients from the middle of March, or almost third week of March.   [ARSHY] By the weekend of March 27th, some of the residents on Joadel’s floor started coming down with COVID-19 symptoms, like fevers and coughs. And the staff started to ask management for masks.    [CONCEPCION] When are they giving us mass? This resident is coughing. We don’t have enough masks. We’re talking about surgical masks, okay? She says, “I gave you guys. If you finish it, that’s your problem.” That’s always her comment. Everybody knew that.    [ARSHY] And because Joadel is the union steward, staff started to come to her, saying that they were short on PPE. But Joadel says that when she took those concerns to management, they were just brushed off.   [CONCEPCION] What? Did I told you to talk to me? I told her to talk to me. Why she’s telling you? I said, no, she’s telling me now, because I’m the union steward. It’s my responsibility to follow up. So then she says, “Well, the public health say that you have to wear masks.”   [ARSHY] A spokesperson for Sienna denied that staff at Villa Leonardo Gambin were ever told not to wear PPE, especially when they were supporting residents displaying respiratory flu-like symptoms. Over the next few days, a number of residents started to experience upper respiratory issues, a telltale COVID-19 symptom.    [CONCEPCION] And some staff, they put on their own from their home. They would get mad at you.   [ARSHY] Joadel says that the message from management was clear. Because Public Health Ontario had yet to mandate it, no one had to wear a mask. And so they weren’t going to be provided any. Joanna Bulatao says that it was very difficult for staff members to get PPE.   [BULATAO] I don’t think that they were prepared for that to spread to other floors, because when it did, it didn’t really feel, like, that we had as much supplies and they felt like we were, like, pulling teeth to get, like, the supplies because we were running low in the home.   [ARSHY] The staff continued to work in close proximity to each other and to provide bedside care. And all the while, residents were moving around the facility.    [CONCEPCION] They’re in the rooms, but they come out. They’re wandering. What are you going to do, tie them on their beds? You’re going to lose your job.   [ARSHY] On March 28, Joadel says that managers asked her to test a number of residents for COVID-19, even though it wasn’t her job. She wasn’t given the proper PPE, but she did it anyways. The next day, another nurse came down with a fever. And within a week, Joadel came down with one, too. That same day, she heard that one of the residents she had tested was now positive.  Within another week, Joadel Concepcion was in the emergency room at Scarborough Grace Hospital, convinced that she was going to die.    [CONCEPCION] I have a lot of diarrhea, vomiting, and so my potassium is low. My heart arrhythmia acted up. I developed congestive heart failure. I had COVID-19 pneumonia.   [ARSHY] Joadel prayed to God that she would survive and be able to spend time with her family.    [CONCEPCION] I’m not a perfect human being. Just give me another chance to live. I still want to see my son get married and have grandkids. And, you know, um, He has to give me another chance to live again. But you know, Arshy, I was… I was just praying. And I just prayed and I said, “God…” And you’re making me cry. [indistinct] It’s so sad.   [ARSHY] But during that time, she couldn’t help but feel betrayed. She had thought that her managers were her friends, that they looked out for her.   [CONCEPCION] I work… I worked with these managers for many years. And I… I… I’m not nobody to them. And then they… Just to give me the N95. They says there’s no supply.   [ARSHY] While she was sitting in that hospital bed recovering, Joedel was amazed by what she saw around her. The protocols, the protections in the hospital were nothing like  in long-term care.    [CONCEPCION] When I was in Scarborough Grace, they disinfect. They come to my room three times, the full shift, the whole day, to take the garbage. Do proper disinfection. They’re wearing double masks, one N95 and the surgical mask under facial, and double gowns, and three pairs of gloves. In long term care, you share everything. They don’t do proper disinfection from the beginning before the COVID. How about now?   [ARSHY] At least twelve residents of Villa Leonardo Gambin have died of COVID-19. And, according to Joadel, 31 employees, including herself, have been infected with the coronavirus. She says that the last staff member who got sick was on May 17the, a month and a half after the outbreak began.  We reached out to Sienna for comment about all of this, and, in an emailed statement, they said that throughout the pandemic, their highest priority has been to ensure the safety of their team members and residents. They say that they ensured ample supplies of PPE were available, including N95 masks, and that charge nurses have access to the residence’s storage room to ensure that team members can acquire new PPE at all times. According to Sienna, team members were encouraged to wear PPE provided by the home, instead of their own, to ensure it met the appropriate standard, and they thanked their team members for their heroic work and their ongoing dedication throughout this pandemic.   OUTRO [ARSHY] As the COVID-19 outbreak was sweeping through the long-term care facility where she worked, Joanna Bulatao was scared.   [BULATAO] It was horrible. <laughs> I mean, it’s like a whole internal battle with yourself because it’s like you want to go into work, you want to help yourself. You want to help your residents. Like, you want to be there and–and do your job. Like, you want to actually help them. But obviously, at the back of your mind, you’re always thinking, like, “Oh, my God, what if I get sick? Like, what if I bring this home to my family? What if I…” You know, “What if I… What if I’m a carrier?”   [ARSHY] And like so many of her colleagues, she became infected and had to stop coming into work.   [BULATAO] As a nurse, I want to be helping. I want to be there. I want to give as much as I can during, like, these difficult times. And knowing that I can’t, and knowing that as I want to, I can’t do anything about it. It’s really frustrating. And it really takes a toll on, like, mental health. And it’s just the worst feeling ever.   [ARSHY] But what got to her the most was that so many of the people she was charged with caring for are now dead. She was stationed on the floor that lost the most residents.     [BULATAO] It was honestly the hardest thing. When I found out that, like, residents were starting to pass on a unit, it was… Either I was breaking down on–on the phone when someone was telling me or I was trying to, like, hold it together. And, it’s just because you build that relationship with them. You remember all of the memories that you have with them. And then to just think that, like, “Oh, well, that’s all you have now, are just memories.” It’s… It’s very hard. Very hard.   [ARSHY] Lisa Burke was lucky enough to not become infected with the coronavirus. But she is frustrated by the state of long-term care. And she thinks enough is enough.    [BURKE] We’ve been… Us, like, in the union, have been yelling, like, “We need more help, we need more staff, we need more of this.” Like, you guys need to come in and regulate more things. And I just think it’s–it’s very, very sad that a pandemic has to show the world what we’ve been shouting for many, many years now.  We are the backbone of the healthcare system, and a lot of people just don’t see the hard work and the dedication of long-term care employees.   END CREDITS [ARSHY] That’s your episode of Commons for the week. If you want to support us, click on the link in your show notes or go to commonspodcast.com This episode relied on work done by Naomi Lightman, Zaid Noorsumar, Tamara Daly, Pat Armstrong and Nora Loreto. If you want to get in touch with us, you can tweet at us at @COMMONSpod. You can also email me, Arshy@canadalandshow.com This episode was produced by me and Jordan Cornish, with additional production by Tiffany Lam. Our managing editor is Andréa Schmidt. And our music is by Nathan Burley.  If you like what we do, please help us make this show. Click on the link in your shownotes or go to commonspodcast.com   I think you should be getting our newsletterGet a weekly note about our top stories.This is a good thing that we do. You'll like this.johnsmith@example.comSign UpForm is being submitted, please wait a bit.Please fill out all required fields.
October 24, 2017
82
As If They Were Pets: The Sixties Scoop
Support us at commonspodcast.com Long-term care workers are in the vanguard in the war against COVID-19. They’re not the kinds of workers who get movies or TV shows made about them. In fact, their stories are rarely told. But not only are they battling heroically against this pandemic. They’re fighting for recognition and respect within a system built to marginalize them.  COMMONS: Pandemic is currently focusing on how COVID-19 is affecting long-term care in Canada.   Featured in this episode: Joadel Concepcion, Joanna Bulatao, Lisa Burke, Naomi Lightman, Zaid Noorsumar To learn more: “‘We are dropping like flies,’ says Ontario home care nurse” by Zaid Noorsumar in Rank and File “Fear and exhaustion: Working as a PSW in long-term care during the coronavirus” by Alanna Mitchell in Maclean’s “Comparing Care Regimes: Worker Characteristics and Wage Penalties in the Global Care Chain” by Naomi Lightman in Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State & Society   This episode is sponsored by Freshbooks Additional music from Audio Network   TRANSCRIPT:    EPISODE 7 – “THE FRONTLINE”   COLD OPEN [ARSHY MANN] Joadel Concepcion’s been working as a registered nurse in long-term care for almost two decades. And she remembers the last time things seemed this frightening. It was 2003. That was when a different coronavirus was sweeping the world, causing Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or “SARS” for short.    [JOADEL CONCEPCION] During SARS time there is a lot of nurses <indistinct> got sick. Even my sister-in-law, she got sick. We have that fear. Why am I going to have this stress again? We don’t know.   [ARSHY] So when she started feeling feverish in early April, Joadel went out to get tested right away.   [CONCEPCION] My first symptoms started on a Saturday, which is April four. I went right away to Scarborough Grace to get tested. And then when I came back home, I had a little bit of OCD for even from SRS time. So when–when I came home, I took a shower because I thought the fever will just subside.   [ARSHY] But the fever didn’t subside. Instead, the symptoms started to get more intense.   [CONCEPCION] I was coughing. I was vomiting. When my husband give me the food, like… I don’t have an appetite. I don’t smell it and I don’t taste it.   [ARSHY] For a few days, Joadel stayed at home, trying to get rest and stay hydrated. But by April 8, she was having trouble breathing.    [CONCEPCION] My airway’s blocked. I can’t breathe. You want to like raise your chest or trying to catch the air, but you can’t. That’s how I feel.   [ARSHY] She asked her son to drive her to Scarborough Grace Hospital. And when they got to the emergency room, a man was outside screening people and asking them questions.   [CONCEPCION] He was saying, “I have to screen you.” I said, “No, don’t screen me.” And I feel like I’m going to die. I can’t breathe.   [ARSHY] The man tried to determine whether she should come wait in the emergency room.   [CONCEPCION] And I can tell my son and my husband are crying. Yelling at them, “Don’t come near me. Don’t come near me.” So I said to one of the staff, I said, “I’m gonna pass out. Please help me. I have COVID. I’m an RN and I work in long-term care.” That’s all I said. And then they took me right away   [ARSHY] They put her on oxygen. But then they realized she was developing congestive heart failure. So they gave her injections, antibiotics, anti-clotting agents… Luckily, Joadel had gotten there in time. She didn’t die. She’s now out of the hospital and fully recovered.  But a lot of people haven’t been so lucky. Since the beginning of the pandemic, thousands of long-term care workers have come down with COVID-19. And 16 of them have died. I’m Arshy Mann, and from CANADALAND, this is Commons.   PART ONE [ARSHY] In stories about long-term care, the workers are often left out of the picture. It’s the nurses, the personal support workers and so many others in these facilities that really have been on the front-line of this pandemic. But they’re work isn’t viewed as sexy or captivating. After all, people don’t make TV shows or movies about long-term care, like they do with hospitals.  And compared to their counterparts in emergency rooms and critical care units, their frontline labour is often devalued.    [NAOMI LIGHTMAN] And they’re often what we refer to as the three “D”s. So, jobs that are dirty, difficult, and, especially during times of a health pandemic, highly dangerous. My name is Naomi Lightman and I’m an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Calgary. My research focuses on the intersection between gender, migration, race and care work.   [ARSHY] According to her research, it’s clear that these jobs, especially personal support workers who provide a big chunk of the day-to-day care, are occupied by specific kinds of people.    [LIGHTMAN] So this is overwhelmingly a female workforce and it’s very much racialized. When we talk just broadly about racialized women, it doesn’t actually capture it. It’s really specifically two groups that we’re talking about. We’re talking about black women and Filipino women who are, in the case of black women, over two times as likely as white women to be working in these jobs and with Filipino women over three times as likely.   [ARSHY] And the people working in these types of positions are also much more likely to be recent immigrants.    [LIGHTMAN] So, when we look at personal support workers or people working specifically in long term care institutions, these are, in fact, among the most precarious and the lowest wage workers, especially in private institutions.  When we compare them to just the average worker and we’re still controlling for factors like their education and their family structure… So holding these factors constant, we see that there is a 40 percent wage penalty for low-skill care work.   [ARSHY] Naomi Lightman says that this is because caring for people has historically been viewed as, quote-unquote, women’s work.    [LIGHTMAN] And I think as this kind of work has entered the paid labor force, we’ve continued to view it through a lens of work that doesn’t really matter or doesn’t hold the same value to other types of paid work. So, we rely on women who are coming from the Global South to do this work that we don’t want to do, and we continue to view it as labor that doesn’t hold the same value as other kinds of work.   [ARSHY] Lisa Burke is a personal support worker at peopleCare Oakcrossing, a long-term care facility in London, Ontario. Here’s what a typical day looks like for her.    [LISA BURKE] I work straight day-shifts. I work 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. When we get to our unit, we have to come a few minutes early to get a report. There’s usually three to four staff to 32 residents.  We get report. They tell us if there’s anybody who’s been hospitalized, any changes, any med changes, any behaviors, any falls, anything like that. We have two hours to get the 32 residents up, dressed, bathed, hairbrush, teeth in, and into the dining room to be fed for breakfast. Some of these residents are aggressive. Some of the residents are fairly independent. And we just have to help with small things, like picking out their clothes. Some people need total care where they have to be dressed, rolled, changed, use a mechanical lift.  If we have to use a mechanical lift  there has to be a minimum of two people to then get that person up and into their wheelchair. We’re supposed to chart at the same time as getting them ready, which is near impossible. And then we have an hour to feed them breakfast. Most times we don’t get into the dining room exactly when we’re supposed to. We’re usually late because there’s just so much care to be done and we don’t have enough people to do it. And then we have to feed them. We’re only supposed to feed two people at a time. So a lot of people have to wait to get their meal because we can only feed two people at a time. After breakfast, we would have to take them back to their rooms. If we can, get a break in. And then you would start toileting residents. Helping, taking them to activities, changing them. Some people lay down for a nap. Finish some baths. And then you would get people back up, toilet people, and then we’d go for lunch, and feed them lunch, the same thing. And then we have like an hour to get people out of the dining room and then back to the rooms, toilet them, change them, lay them down for a nap, if they need to have a nap, and try to chart and get everything done at the same time.   [ARSHY] Lisa Burke says that her home is always understaffed. And when they ask for more help, management tells them that they don’t have enough funding.    [BURKE] We don’t have enough staff at all to give any of the residents the type of care they need and deserve.   [ARSHY] Zaid Noorsumar is a labour reporter who’s been covering long-term care workers. And he says that, even as the care needs of long-term residents have been growing, staff aren’t getting more of the resources they need.   [ZAID NOORSUMAR] Residents coming into long-term care now have increasingly complex needs and they require a higher level of care, while, at the same time, the staffing ratios have not kept up. They haven’t been increased in accordance with the acuity of patients. So that’s a big factor, and what that means is that staff are constantly rushing. They’re running around. They don’t have the time to spend with residents.   [BURKE] People think that we get paid this giant amount of money and that we’re lazy because we’re complaining that we don’t have enough time or the manpower to do the work. I don’t think they know how physically, mentally, emotionally draining the job actually is.   [ARSHY] Joanna Bulatao agrees. She’s a registered practical nurse at Villa Leonardo Gambin, the same facility that Joedel Concepcion works at.    [JOANNA BULATAO] A lot of our staff, they’re constantly, like… Overwork themselves or, like, they really give their all when they’re providing, like, care to our residents. And it gets very, very tiring, like, especially during now. It does get exhausting. It’s not that we don’t want to provide care. It’s just that we become so drained because we want to help.   [ARSHY] And long-term care workers form close personal bonds with the people they take care of.   [NOORSUMAR] They think of residents as their family members, and they really feel they–they want to provide the best care that they can. In fact, one of the workers that I spoke with, who used to be in home care… I think now she works long-term care. She said, “Mentally, it’s a very draining job. You get attached to your client and then you get frustrated because you know the need for care but they aren’t getting it. Most of us PSWs are the type that, if the client’s having a bad day, it’s hard not to take that with you. And she said, after years and years of not being able to provide health care, she was burned out and she quit. She said, “I started my car and I started crying and I couldn’t stop.” And that’s the day she quit.   [ARSHY] All of the workers we spoke to said the same thing: the people they care for become like family to them.   [BURKE] Even when we have a person who becomes palliative or passes away, a part of us goes with them, too. Like, a lot of the time we’re in the room with them, or with the family. We’re crying with the family. Or even if they’re alone, we’re with them, holding them, as they take their last breath. Like, it’s… It’s like losing a part of your family.    [BULATAO] I think people don’t really realize that, like, when you’re with the same residents, they kind of become like a part of you. Like, they become, like, your–your family. That’s–that’s who we’re taking care of. We’re taking care of them just like we would our grandparents.   PART TWO [ARSHY] Joadel Concepcion, who you heard at the top of the show, came to Canada from the Philippines in 1995. She first worked as a nanny and then took some courses and became a registered nurse. Soon, she was working in long-term care. And, since 2004, she’s been working at Villa Leonardo Gambin, a long-term care home in Woodbridge, Ontario. The home was built for the nearby Italian community, so in order to be able to care for the residents, Jodel’s learned as much Italian as she could.   [CONCEPCION] So you have to encourage them and say… [speaking Italian]   [ARSHY] Villa Leonardo Gambin is technically a non-profit home, but it’s run by Sienna, one of the largest for-profit long-term care providers. The home would have pandemic preparedness training every year and Joadel was one of the people tasked with ensuring that people’s masks fit properly. By early March of this year, Joadel was getting more and more worried about COVID-19. She’d had family members who had gotten SARS, and she knew how scary things could get. And she says that, early on, it became clear that the staff weren’t going to get the proper personal protective equipment. By mid-March, the doctor who used to come do rounds refused to enter the building.     [CONCEPCION] They don’t do rounds in the building because they know that the administrator is not giving him PPE. Dr. Bujon will only do OTN with me using my cell phone to see his patients from the middle of March, or almost third week of March.   [ARSHY] By the weekend of March 27th, some of the residents on Joadel’s floor started coming down with COVID-19 symptoms, like fevers and coughs. And the staff started to ask management for masks.    [CONCEPCION] When are they giving us mass? This resident is coughing. We don’t have enough masks. We’re talking about surgical masks, okay? She says, “I gave you guys. If you finish it, that’s your problem.” That’s always her comment. Everybody knew that.    [ARSHY] And because Joadel is the union steward, staff started to come to her, saying that they were short on PPE. But Joadel says that when she took those concerns to management, they were just brushed off.   [CONCEPCION] What? Did I told you to talk to me? I told her to talk to me. Why she’s telling you? I said, no, she’s telling me now, because I’m the union steward. It’s my responsibility to follow up. So then she says, “Well, the public health say that you have to wear masks.”   [ARSHY] A spokesperson for Sienna denied that staff at Villa Leonardo Gambin were ever told not to wear PPE, especially when they were supporting residents displaying respiratory flu-like symptoms. Over the next few days, a number of residents started to experience upper respiratory issues, a telltale COVID-19 symptom.    [CONCEPCION] And some staff, they put on their own from their home. They would get mad at you.   [ARSHY] Joadel says that the message from management was clear. Because Public Health Ontario had yet to mandate it, no one had to wear a mask. And so they weren’t going to be provided any. Joanna Bulatao says that it was very difficult for staff members to get PPE.   [BULATAO] I don’t think that they were prepared for that to spread to other floors, because when it did, it didn’t really feel, like, that we had as much supplies and they felt like we were, like, pulling teeth to get, like, the supplies because we were running low in the home.   [ARSHY] The staff continued to work in close proximity to each other and to provide bedside care. And all the while, residents were moving around the facility.    [CONCEPCION] They’re in the rooms, but they come out. They’re wandering. What are you going to do, tie them on their beds? You’re going to lose your job.   [ARSHY] On March 28, Joadel says that managers asked her to test a number of residents for COVID-19, even though it wasn’t her job. She wasn’t given the proper PPE, but she did it anyways. The next day, another nurse came down with a fever. And within a week, Joadel came down with one, too. That same day, she heard that one of the residents she had tested was now positive.  Within another week, Joadel Concepcion was in the emergency room at Scarborough Grace Hospital, convinced that she was going to die.    [CONCEPCION] I have a lot of diarrhea, vomiting, and so my potassium is low. My heart arrhythmia acted up. I developed congestive heart failure. I had COVID-19 pneumonia.   [ARSHY] Joadel prayed to God that she would survive and be able to spend time with her family.    [CONCEPCION] I’m not a perfect human being. Just give me another chance to live. I still want to see my son get married and have grandkids. And, you know, um, He has to give me another chance to live again. But you know, Arshy, I was… I was just praying. And I just prayed and I said, “God…” And you’re making me cry. [indistinct] It’s so sad.   [ARSHY] But during that time, she couldn’t help but feel betrayed. She had thought that her managers were her friends, that they looked out for her.   [CONCEPCION] I work… I worked with these managers for many years. And I… I… I’m not nobody to them. And then they… Just to give me the N95. They says there’s no supply.   [ARSHY] While she was sitting in that hospital bed recovering, Joedel was amazed by what she saw around her. The protocols, the protections in the hospital were nothing like  in long-term care.    [CONCEPCION] When I was in Scarborough Grace, they disinfect. They come to my room three times, the full shift, the whole day, to take the garbage. Do proper disinfection. They’re wearing double masks, one N95 and the surgical mask under facial, and double gowns, and three pairs of gloves. In long term care, you share everything. They don’t do proper disinfection from the beginning before the COVID. How about now?   [ARSHY] At least twelve residents of Villa Leonardo Gambin have died of COVID-19. And, according to Joadel, 31 employees, including herself, have been infected with the coronavirus. She says that the last staff member who got sick was on May 17the, a month and a half after the outbreak began.  We reached out to Sienna for comment about all of this, and, in an emailed statement, they said that throughout the pandemic, their highest priority has been to ensure the safety of their team members and residents. They say that they ensured ample supplies of PPE were available, including N95 masks, and that charge nurses have access to the residence’s storage room to ensure that team members can acquire new PPE at all times. According to Sienna, team members were encouraged to wear PPE provided by the home, instead of their own, to ensure it met the appropriate standard, and they thanked their team members for their heroic work and their ongoing dedication throughout this pandemic.   OUTRO [ARSHY] As the COVID-19 outbreak was sweeping through the long-term care facility where she worked, Joanna Bulatao was scared.   [BULATAO] It was horrible. <laughs> I mean, it’s like a whole internal battle with yourself because it’s like you want to go into work, you want to help yourself. You want to help your residents. Like, you want to be there and–and do your job. Like, you want to actually help them. But obviously, at the back of your mind, you’re always thinking, like, “Oh, my God, what if I get sick? Like, what if I bring this home to my family? What if I…” You know, “What if I… What if I’m a carrier?”   [ARSHY] And like so many of her colleagues, she became infected and had to stop coming into work.   [BULATAO] As a nurse, I want to be helping. I want to be there. I want to give as much as I can during, like, these difficult times. And knowing that I can’t, and knowing that as I want to, I can’t do anything about it. It’s really frustrating. And it really takes a toll on, like, mental health. And it’s just the worst feeling ever.   [ARSHY] But what got to her the most was that so many of the people she was charged with caring for are now dead. She was stationed on the floor that lost the most residents.     [BULATAO] It was honestly the hardest thing. When I found out that, like, residents were starting to pass on a unit, it was… Either I was breaking down on–on the phone when someone was telling me or I was trying to, like, hold it together. And, it’s just because you build that relationship with them. You remember all of the memories that you have with them. And then to just think that, like, “Oh, well, that’s all you have now, are just memories.” It’s… It’s very hard. Very hard.   [ARSHY] Lisa Burke was lucky enough to not become infected with the coronavirus. But she is frustrated by the state of long-term care. And she thinks enough is enough.    [BURKE] We’ve been… Us, like, in the union, have been yelling, like, “We need more help, we need more staff, we need more of this.” Like, you guys need to come in and regulate more things. And I just think it’s–it’s very, very sad that a pandemic has to show the world what we’ve been shouting for many, many years now.  We are the backbone of the healthcare system, and a lot of people just don’t see the hard work and the dedication of long-term care employees.   END CREDITS [ARSHY] That’s your episode of Commons for the week. If you want to support us, click on the link in your show notes or go to commonspodcast.com This episode relied on work done by Naomi Lightman, Zaid Noorsumar, Tamara Daly, Pat Armstrong and Nora Loreto. If you want to get in touch with us, you can tweet at us at @COMMONSpod. You can also email me, Arshy@canadalandshow.com This episode was produced by me and Jordan Cornish, with additional production by Tiffany Lam. Our managing editor is Andréa Schmidt. And our music is by Nathan Burley.  If you like what we do, please help us make this show. Click on the link in your shownotes or go to commonspodcast.com   I think you should be getting our newsletterGet a weekly note about our top stories.This is a good thing that we do. You'll like this.johnsmith@example.comSign UpForm is being submitted, please wait a bit.Please fill out all required fields.
November 6, 2017
No Protest is Genteel: On Antifa
Live from Vancouver: We speak with organizers Garth Mullins and Annie Ohana to unpack what it means to resist fascism in BC. Featuring Hadiya Roderique and guest host Sandy Garossino.
November 21, 2017
Invisible Victims: How Police Botched the Robert Pickton Case
Support us at commonspodcast.com Long-term care workers are in the vanguard in the war against COVID-19. They’re not the kinds of workers who get movies or TV shows made about them. In fact, their stories are rarely told. But not only are they battling heroically against this pandemic. They’re fighting for recognition and respect within a system built to marginalize them.  COMMONS: Pandemic is currently focusing on how COVID-19 is affecting long-term care in Canada.   Featured in this episode: Joadel Concepcion, Joanna Bulatao, Lisa Burke, Naomi Lightman, Zaid Noorsumar To learn more: “‘We are dropping like flies,’ says Ontario home care nurse” by Zaid Noorsumar in Rank and File “Fear and exhaustion: Working as a PSW in long-term care during the coronavirus” by Alanna Mitchell in Maclean’s “Comparing Care Regimes: Worker Characteristics and Wage Penalties in the Global Care Chain” by Naomi Lightman in Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State & Society   This episode is sponsored by Freshbooks Additional music from Audio Network   TRANSCRIPT:    EPISODE 7 – “THE FRONTLINE”   COLD OPEN [ARSHY MANN] Joadel Concepcion’s been working as a registered nurse in long-term care for almost two decades. And she remembers the last time things seemed this frightening. It was 2003. That was when a different coronavirus was sweeping the world, causing Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or “SARS” for short.    [JOADEL CONCEPCION] During SARS time there is a lot of nurses <indistinct> got sick. Even my sister-in-law, she got sick. We have that fear. Why am I going to have this stress again? We don’t know.   [ARSHY] So when she started feeling feverish in early April, Joadel went out to get tested right away.   [CONCEPCION] My first symptoms started on a Saturday, which is April four. I went right away to Scarborough Grace to get tested. And then when I came back home, I had a little bit of OCD for even from SRS time. So when–when I came home, I took a shower because I thought the fever will just subside.   [ARSHY] But the fever didn’t subside. Instead, the symptoms started to get more intense.   [CONCEPCION] I was coughing. I was vomiting. When my husband give me the food, like… I don’t have an appetite. I don’t smell it and I don’t taste it.   [ARSHY] For a few days, Joadel stayed at home, trying to get rest and stay hydrated. But by April 8, she was having trouble breathing.    [CONCEPCION] My airway’s blocked. I can’t breathe. You want to like raise your chest or trying to catch the air, but you can’t. That’s how I feel.   [ARSHY] She asked her son to drive her to Scarborough Grace Hospital. And when they got to the emergency room, a man was outside screening people and asking them questions.   [CONCEPCION] He was saying, “I have to screen you.” I said, “No, don’t screen me.” And I feel like I’m going to die. I can’t breathe.   [ARSHY] The man tried to determine whether she should come wait in the emergency room.   [CONCEPCION] And I can tell my son and my husband are crying. Yelling at them, “Don’t come near me. Don’t come near me.” So I said to one of the staff, I said, “I’m gonna pass out. Please help me. I have COVID. I’m an RN and I work in long-term care.” That’s all I said. And then they took me right away   [ARSHY] They put her on oxygen. But then they realized she was developing congestive heart failure. So they gave her injections, antibiotics, anti-clotting agents… Luckily, Joadel had gotten there in time. She didn’t die. She’s now out of the hospital and fully recovered.  But a lot of people haven’t been so lucky. Since the beginning of the pandemic, thousands of long-term care workers have come down with COVID-19. And 16 of them have died. I’m Arshy Mann, and from CANADALAND, this is Commons.   PART ONE [ARSHY] In stories about long-term care, the workers are often left out of the picture. It’s the nurses, the personal support workers and so many others in these facilities that really have been on the front-line of this pandemic. But they’re work isn’t viewed as sexy or captivating. After all, people don’t make TV shows or movies about long-term care, like they do with hospitals.  And compared to their counterparts in emergency rooms and critical care units, their frontline labour is often devalued.    [NAOMI LIGHTMAN] And they’re often what we refer to as the three “D”s. So, jobs that are dirty, difficult, and, especially during times of a health pandemic, highly dangerous. My name is Naomi Lightman and I’m an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Calgary. My research focuses on the intersection between gender, migration, race and care work.   [ARSHY] According to her research, it’s clear that these jobs, especially personal support workers who provide a big chunk of the day-to-day care, are occupied by specific kinds of people.    [LIGHTMAN] So this is overwhelmingly a female workforce and it’s very much racialized. When we talk just broadly about racialized women, it doesn’t actually capture it. It’s really specifically two groups that we’re talking about. We’re talking about black women and Filipino women who are, in the case of black women, over two times as likely as white women to be working in these jobs and with Filipino women over three times as likely.   [ARSHY] And the people working in these types of positions are also much more likely to be recent immigrants.    [LIGHTMAN] So, when we look at personal support workers or people working specifically in long term care institutions, these are, in fact, among the most precarious and the lowest wage workers, especially in private institutions.  When we compare them to just the average worker and we’re still controlling for factors like their education and their family structure… So holding these factors constant, we see that there is a 40 percent wage penalty for low-skill care work.   [ARSHY] Naomi Lightman says that this is because caring for people has historically been viewed as, quote-unquote, women’s work.    [LIGHTMAN] And I think as this kind of work has entered the paid labor force, we’ve continued to view it through a lens of work that doesn’t really matter or doesn’t hold the same value to other types of paid work. So, we rely on women who are coming from the Global South to do this work that we don’t want to do, and we continue to view it as labor that doesn’t hold the same value as other kinds of work.   [ARSHY] Lisa Burke is a personal support worker at peopleCare Oakcrossing, a long-term care facility in London, Ontario. Here’s what a typical day looks like for her.    [LISA BURKE] I work straight day-shifts. I work 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. When we get to our unit, we have to come a few minutes early to get a report. There’s usually three to four staff to 32 residents.  We get report. They tell us if there’s anybody who’s been hospitalized, any changes, any med changes, any behaviors, any falls, anything like that. We have two hours to get the 32 residents up, dressed, bathed, hairbrush, teeth in, and into the dining room to be fed for breakfast. Some of these residents are aggressive. Some of the residents are fairly independent. And we just have to help with small things, like picking out their clothes. Some people need total care where they have to be dressed, rolled, changed, use a mechanical lift.  If we have to use a mechanical lift  there has to be a minimum of two people to then get that person up and into their wheelchair. We’re supposed to chart at the same time as getting them ready, which is near impossible. And then we have an hour to feed them breakfast. Most times we don’t get into the dining room exactly when we’re supposed to. We’re usually late because there’s just so much care to be done and we don’t have enough people to do it. And then we have to feed them. We’re only supposed to feed two people at a time. So a lot of people have to wait to get their meal because we can only feed two people at a time. After breakfast, we would have to take them back to their rooms. If we can, get a break in. And then you would start toileting residents. Helping, taking them to activities, changing them. Some people lay down for a nap. Finish some baths. And then you would get people back up, toilet people, and then we’d go for lunch, and feed them lunch, the same thing. And then we have like an hour to get people out of the dining room and then back to the rooms, toilet them, change them, lay them down for a nap, if they need to have a nap, and try to chart and get everything done at the same time.   [ARSHY] Lisa Burke says that her home is always understaffed. And when they ask for more help, management tells them that they don’t have enough funding.    [BURKE] We don’t have enough staff at all to give any of the residents the type of care they need and deserve.   [ARSHY] Zaid Noorsumar is a labour reporter who’s been covering long-term care workers. And he says that, even as the care needs of long-term residents have been growing, staff aren’t getting more of the resources they need.   [ZAID NOORSUMAR] Residents coming into long-term care now have increasingly complex needs and they require a higher level of care, while, at the same time, the staffing ratios have not kept up. They haven’t been increased in accordance with the acuity of patients. So that’s a big factor, and what that means is that staff are constantly rushing. They’re running around. They don’t have the time to spend with residents.   [BURKE] People think that we get paid this giant amount of money and that we’re lazy because we’re complaining that we don’t have enough time or the manpower to do the work. I don’t think they know how physically, mentally, emotionally draining the job actually is.   [ARSHY] Joanna Bulatao agrees. She’s a registered practical nurse at Villa Leonardo Gambin, the same facility that Joedel Concepcion works at.    [JOANNA BULATAO] A lot of our staff, they’re constantly, like… Overwork themselves or, like, they really give their all when they’re providing, like, care to our residents. And it gets very, very tiring, like, especially during now. It does get exhausting. It’s not that we don’t want to provide care. It’s just that we become so drained because we want to help.   [ARSHY] And long-term care workers form close personal bonds with the people they take care of.   [NOORSUMAR] They think of residents as their family members, and they really feel they–they want to provide the best care that they can. In fact, one of the workers that I spoke with, who used to be in home care… I think now she works long-term care. She said, “Mentally, it’s a very draining job. You get attached to your client and then you get frustrated because you know the need for care but they aren’t getting it. Most of us PSWs are the type that, if the client’s having a bad day, it’s hard not to take that with you. And she said, after years and years of not being able to provide health care, she was burned out and she quit. She said, “I started my car and I started crying and I couldn’t stop.” And that’s the day she quit.   [ARSHY] All of the workers we spoke to said the same thing: the people they care for become like family to them.   [BURKE] Even when we have a person who becomes palliative or passes away, a part of us goes with them, too. Like, a lot of the time we’re in the room with them, or with the family. We’re crying with the family. Or even if they’re alone, we’re with them, holding them, as they take their last breath. Like, it’s… It’s like losing a part of your family.    [BULATAO] I think people don’t really realize that, like, when you’re with the same residents, they kind of become like a part of you. Like, they become, like, your–your family. That’s–that’s who we’re taking care of. We’re taking care of them just like we would our grandparents.   PART TWO [ARSHY] Joadel Concepcion, who you heard at the top of the show, came to Canada from the Philippines in 1995. She first worked as a nanny and then took some courses and became a registered nurse. Soon, she was working in long-term care. And, since 2004, she’s been working at Villa Leonardo Gambin, a long-term care home in Woodbridge, Ontario. The home was built for the nearby Italian community, so in order to be able to care for the residents, Jodel’s learned as much Italian as she could.   [CONCEPCION] So you have to encourage them and say… [speaking Italian]   [ARSHY] Villa Leonardo Gambin is technically a non-profit home, but it’s run by Sienna, one of the largest for-profit long-term care providers. The home would have pandemic preparedness training every year and Joadel was one of the people tasked with ensuring that people’s masks fit properly. By early March of this year, Joadel was getting more and more worried about COVID-19. She’d had family members who had gotten SARS, and she knew how scary things could get. And she says that, early on, it became clear that the staff weren’t going to get the proper personal protective equipment. By mid-March, the doctor who used to come do rounds refused to enter the building.     [CONCEPCION] They don’t do rounds in the building because they know that the administrator is not giving him PPE. Dr. Bujon will only do OTN with me using my cell phone to see his patients from the middle of March, or almost third week of March.   [ARSHY] By the weekend of March 27th, some of the residents on Joadel’s floor started coming down with COVID-19 symptoms, like fevers and coughs. And the staff started to ask management for masks.    [CONCEPCION] When are they giving us mass? This resident is coughing. We don’t have enough masks. We’re talking about surgical masks, okay? She says, “I gave you guys. If you finish it, that’s your problem.” That’s always her comment. Everybody knew that.    [ARSHY] And because Joadel is the union steward, staff started to come to her, saying that they were short on PPE. But Joadel says that when she took those concerns to management, they were just brushed off.   [CONCEPCION] What? Did I told you to talk to me? I told her to talk to me. Why she’s telling you? I said, no, she’s telling me now, because I’m the union steward. It’s my responsibility to follow up. So then she says, “Well, the public health say that you have to wear masks.”   [ARSHY] A spokesperson for Sienna denied that staff at Villa Leonardo Gambin were ever told not to wear PPE, especially when they were supporting residents displaying respiratory flu-like symptoms. Over the next few days, a number of residents started to experience upper respiratory issues, a telltale COVID-19 symptom.    [CONCEPCION] And some staff, they put on their own from their home. They would get mad at you.   [ARSHY] Joadel says that the message from management was clear. Because Public Health Ontario had yet to mandate it, no one had to wear a mask. And so they weren’t going to be provided any. Joanna Bulatao says that it was very difficult for staff members to get PPE.   [BULATAO] I don’t think that they were prepared for that to spread to other floors, because when it did, it didn’t really feel, like, that we had as much supplies and they felt like we were, like, pulling teeth to get, like, the supplies because we were running low in the home.   [ARSHY] The staff continued to work in close proximity to each other and to provide bedside care. And all the while, residents were moving around the facility.    [CONCEPCION] They’re in the rooms, but they come out. They’re wandering. What are you going to do, tie them on their beds? You’re going to lose your job.   [ARSHY] On March 28, Joadel says that managers asked her to test a number of residents for COVID-19, even though it wasn’t her job. She wasn’t given the proper PPE, but she did it anyways. The next day, another nurse came down with a fever. And within a week, Joadel came down with one, too. That same day, she heard that one of the residents she had tested was now positive.  Within another week, Joadel Concepcion was in the emergency room at Scarborough Grace Hospital, convinced that she was going to die.    [CONCEPCION] I have a lot of diarrhea, vomiting, and so my potassium is low. My heart arrhythmia acted up. I developed congestive heart failure. I had COVID-19 pneumonia.   [ARSHY] Joadel prayed to God that she would survive and be able to spend time with her family.    [CONCEPCION] I’m not a perfect human being. Just give me another chance to live. I still want to see my son get married and have grandkids. And, you know, um, He has to give me another chance to live again. But you know, Arshy, I was… I was just praying. And I just prayed and I said, “God…” And you’re making me cry. [indistinct] It’s so sad.   [ARSHY] But during that time, she couldn’t help but feel betrayed. She had thought that her managers were her friends, that they looked out for her.   [CONCEPCION] I work… I worked with these managers for many years. And I… I… I’m not nobody to them. And then they… Just to give me the N95. They says there’s no supply.   [ARSHY] While she was sitting in that hospital bed recovering, Joedel was amazed by what she saw around her. The protocols, the protections in the hospital were nothing like  in long-term care.    [CONCEPCION] When I was in Scarborough Grace, they disinfect. They come to my room three times, the full shift, the whole day, to take the garbage. Do proper disinfection. They’re wearing double masks, one N95 and the surgical mask under facial, and double gowns, and three pairs of gloves. In long term care, you share everything. They don’t do proper disinfection from the beginning before the COVID. How about now?   [ARSHY] At least twelve residents of Villa Leonardo Gambin have died of COVID-19. And, according to Joadel, 31 employees, including herself, have been infected with the coronavirus. She says that the last staff member who got sick was on May 17the, a month and a half after the outbreak began.  We reached out to Sienna for comment about all of this, and, in an emailed statement, they said that throughout the pandemic, their highest priority has been to ensure the safety of their team members and residents. They say that they ensured ample supplies of PPE were available, including N95 masks, and that charge nurses have access to the residence’s storage room to ensure that team members can acquire new PPE at all times. According to Sienna, team members were encouraged to wear PPE provided by the home, instead of their own, to ensure it met the appropriate standard, and they thanked their team members for their heroic work and their ongoing dedication throughout this pandemic.   OUTRO [ARSHY] As the COVID-19 outbreak was sweeping through the long-term care facility where she worked, Joanna Bulatao was scared.   [BULATAO] It was horrible. <laughs> I mean, it’s like a whole internal battle with yourself because it’s like you want to go into work, you want to help yourself. You want to help your residents. Like, you want to be there and–and do your job. Like, you want to actually help them. But obviously, at the back of your mind, you’re always thinking, like, “Oh, my God, what if I get sick? Like, what if I bring this home to my family? What if I…” You know, “What if I… What if I’m a carrier?”   [ARSHY] And like so many of her colleagues, she became infected and had to stop coming into work.   [BULATAO] As a nurse, I want to be helping. I want to be there. I want to give as much as I can during, like, these difficult times. And knowing that I can’t, and knowing that as I want to, I can’t do anything about it. It’s really frustrating. And it really takes a toll on, like, mental health. And it’s just the worst feeling ever.   [ARSHY] But what got to her the most was that so many of the people she was charged with caring for are now dead. She was stationed on the floor that lost the most residents.     [BULATAO] It was honestly the hardest thing. When I found out that, like, residents were starting to pass on a unit, it was… Either I was breaking down on–on the phone when someone was telling me or I was trying to, like, hold it together. And, it’s just because you build that relationship with them. You remember all of the memories that you have with them. And then to just think that, like, “Oh, well, that’s all you have now, are just memories.” It’s… It’s very hard. Very hard.   [ARSHY] Lisa Burke was lucky enough to not become infected with the coronavirus. But she is frustrated by the state of long-term care. And she thinks enough is enough.    [BURKE] We’ve been… Us, like, in the union, have been yelling, like, “We need more help, we need more staff, we need more of this.” Like, you guys need to come in and regulate more things. And I just think it’s–it’s very, very sad that a pandemic has to show the world what we’ve been shouting for many, many years now.  We are the backbone of the healthcare system, and a lot of people just don’t see the hard work and the dedication of long-term care employees.   END CREDITS [ARSHY] That’s your episode of Commons for the week. If you want to support us, click on the link in your show notes or go to commonspodcast.com This episode relied on work done by Naomi Lightman, Zaid Noorsumar, Tamara Daly, Pat Armstrong and Nora Loreto. If you want to get in touch with us, you can tweet at us at @COMMONSpod. You can also email me, Arshy@canadalandshow.com This episode was produced by me and Jordan Cornish, with additional production by Tiffany Lam. Our managing editor is Andréa Schmidt. And our music is by Nathan Burley.  If you like what we do, please help us make this show. Click on the link in your shownotes or go to commonspodcast.com   I think you should be getting our newsletterGet a weekly note about our top stories.This is a good thing that we do. You'll like this.johnsmith@example.comSign UpForm is being submitted, please wait a bit.Please fill out all required fields.
December 5, 2017
Invisible Victims: The Quest for Police Accountability
"It was bad enough that I had lost my daughter. But the interaction with the police was even worse." A miniseries on policing.
December 19, 2017
Throwing Shade at 2017: A Political Awards Show
We look back on some notably weird political moments of 2017 and collectively cringe.
January 8, 2018
Unknown Road: Inside Immigration Detention
Each year, thousands of people are indefinitely jailed in prisons without any criminal charges. Babou was one of them.  
January 22, 2018
Our Mis(education): the Erasure of Blackness in Canadian Schools
"Only a few decades after slavery was abolished, you already had, in textbooks in Ontario, the removal of references of history of slavery in Canada, but still many examples of realities of slavery in the United States. This idea of identifying racism as an American phenomenon is an important part of how Canadian racism articulates itself."
February 12, 2018
Finding A Fix: Our Opioid Overdose Crisis
“I tried to count up the amount of people that I knew who had died from overdose. I got to fifty, and I just had to stop. You get used to it. It’s like it becomes normal.”
February 27, 2018
Unconstitutional Solitude
Part one of a two-part series in which we explore the conditions and consequences of solitary confinement use in Canada.
March 12, 2018
Stories From Solitude
Two stories take us inside solitary confinement cells across Canada.
March 27, 2018
Canadian History X
As a teen, Elisa Hategan joined Canada's most notorious and well-organized white supremacist group, the Heritage Front. What can we learn from the past about how white supremacists operate today? And what do we do about all these Nazis?
April 9, 2018
The All-White Jury In Canada
There's a simple legal mechanism that allows lawyers to whitewash juries. A new bill proposes getting rid of it, but some lawyers are saying that will make things worse. We look back to how we got here.
April 24, 2018
Life In Canada Without Clean Water
Canada has 20 per cent of the world's freshwater and yet some Indigenous communities across the country have not had clean drinking water for decades.
May 7, 2018
What Do Peacekeepers Actually Do?
The Liberal government announced that it would be sending around 200 troops to assist in a UN peacekeeping mission in Mali. But what does "peacekeeping" look like today and what do peacekeepers actually do?
May 22, 2018
Canada Is Not Racist… According To The Stats
If you look at the stats, Canada has a low incidence of hate crimes, but the numbers that we rely on to tell us if we're racist or not are wrong.
June 5, 2018
What The Hell Is A Fairness Letter?
We speak to someone who might not be let into Canada for trying to bring democracy to Syria.
June 19, 2018
CORRUPTION #1 – The Most Crime-Ridden Neighbourhood In Canada
This season, Commons will be focusing on stories at the intersection of money, influence and politics in Canada. In this episode, we take you to what may be Canada’s most criminal neighbourhood — Toronto’s financial district.
October 2, 2018
CORRUPTION #2 – How Vancouver Became a Money Laundering Paradise
For years, people could walk into Vancouver-area casinos with tens of thousands of dollars of suspicious cash and walk out with clean money, no questions asked. That money may be fuelling the city's housing crisis and opiate epidemic.
October 16, 2018
CORRUPTION #3 – The Trouble With Paradise: How Canadians Built The Offshore World
The Panama Papers revealed to the world just how deeply enmeshed tax havens are in the global economy. And for 100 years, Canadian banks, businessmen and politicians have worked to build that offshore system, alongside crooks, fraudsters and corrupt officials.
October 30, 2018
CORRUPTION #4 – Papa Pump and the Small Town Shakedown
In the eleven years that Marolyn Morrison was the mayor of Caledon, Ontario, she faced down deep-pocketed developers, mafia enforcers and corrupt federal officials. When millions of dollars are at stake, things get heated.
November 13, 2018
CORRUPTION #5 – The King of Cabbagetown
For two decades, he's controlled public institutions and bragged about his connections to organized crime. So who exactly is the King of Cabbagetown?
November 27, 2018
CORRUPTION #6 – Charlottetown’s Web
It might be small, but it when it comes to graft, Prince Edward Island plays in the big leagues. Inside PEI’s long, strange attempt to become Canada’s online gambling hub.
December 11, 2018
CORRUPTION #7 – The Only Canadian Imprisoned For Insider Trading
One of Canada's most notorious white-collar criminals speaks about his crimes.
January 8, 2019
CORRUPTION #8 – Hockey’s Hall of Shame
Canada is hockey crazy. But at the heart of the sport is a system of unpaid labour that scars some boys for life. And the teams and leagues are doing whatever it takes to make sure things stay exactly the way they are.
January 22, 2019
CORRUPTION #9 – Victoria’s Secrets
Tens of thousands of dollars in suits, luggage, magazines and mustard. An epic booze heist from the legislature. An undercover legislator exposing corruption. And a wood-splitter that’s transfixed a province.
February 5, 2019
CORRUPTION #10 – The Canadian Company Accused of Using Slaves Today
Canadian companies have committed all kinds of wrongdoing abroad. But this is on a different level. One Vancouver-based company has been accused by the United Nations and Human Rights Watch of using slaves to build a mine with one of the world’s most oppressive governments.
February 19, 2019
Introducing Our New Season: CRUDE
Canada was built on oil.
March 28, 2019
CRUDE #1 – Smell This Town
If you don’t understand oil, you can’t understand Canada. We take you to a place unlike anywhere else in the world, where the booms and busts all began. And find out why just a short distance away, children grow up afraid of the very air they breathe.
April 2, 2019
CRUDE #2 – Bombs, Blood & the Battle of Trickle Creek
A family poisoned in their homes. Bombs going off in the night. Shots fired and inside jobs. The story of Wiebo Ludwig is There Will Be Blood come to life. So was he a man of faith facing down the full might of Big Oil? Or a terrorist with blood on his hands?
April 16, 2019
CRUDE #3 – Let the Bastards Freeze in the Dark
The Alberta oil sands. It’s a cold patch of land (which we once almost nuked into oblivion) that’s become Canada’s economic engine. Governments have fought over it for decades. And now it’s one of the most controversial places on the planet. Will it finally tear our politics apart?
April 30, 2019
CRUDE #4 – Orphan Wells: Citizen Con
What happens when the oil wells run dry? Environmental damage, government bailouts and a scheme that some are comparing to the subprime mortgage crisis. And all of this is just the beginning.
May 14, 2019
CRUDE #5 – A Town, Annihilated
The Lac-Mégantic rail disaster was a calamity like we’ve never seen before. The families of the victims never got justice. But the conditions that made it possible have barely changed. And the next time could be far worse.
May 28, 2019
CRUDE #6 – The Devil in the Deep Blue Sea
An unspeakable tragedy occurs off the coast of Newfoundland. But this isn’t just a story about a nautical disaster. It’s about what happens when a poor province finds immense riches just within reach. And how the promise of oil wealth can twist history around itself.
June 11, 2019
CRUDE #7 – The Billionaire Plot to Destroy Alberta’s Economy is Totally Real!
Has Canada been a casualty of a nefarious campaign by foreign-funded radicals to landlock our country’s energy resources? Is Big Oil the victim of a vast international conspiracy? Naaaah. But there is, of course, another conspiracy afoot.
June 25, 2019
Introducing Wag The Doug
Over the past few weeks, Ontario Premier Doug Ford was booed at the Raptors' victory parade, demoted a bunch of star members of his Cabinet amid sagging poll numbers and lost his Chief of Staff, who got caught up in a nepotism scandal.  Are we witnessing the downfall of a government, or is this just another month in Ontario? 
July 8, 2019
CRUDE #8 – Spies, Lies and Private Eyes
Ever get the feeling someone is watching you? If you’ve been to an environmental protest recently, you might be right. Private intelligence firms, the RCMP and even Canada’s spies have all been caught collecting information on everyday Canadians speaking out against the oil industry.
July 23, 2019
CRUDE #9 – Tar Teck: The Final Frontier
Teck Resources just got approval to build the largest tar sands operation ever. The Frontier mine would have serious and permanent consequences for the local environment, Indigenous peoples and the global climate. So why haven’t you ever heard about it?
August 6, 2019
CRUDE #10 – The Apocalypse is Now
Canoe-borne bandits strike an underwater town. A new generation of wealthy lobstermen is minted. An island disappears. And hellfire engulfs a highway jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive. Just another normal day amidst Canada’s climate catastrophe. 
August 20, 2019
Our New Season: DYNASTIES
Stories about the rich and powerful families who run Canada.
September 11, 2019
DYNASTIES #1 – The Stronachs
Canada is a country ruled by dynasties — political, commercial and criminal. In the first episode of our new series, we bring you the story of an eccentric, billionaire patriarch; his famous, charismatic daughter; a fire-breathing monument the size of the Statue of Liberty; and the battle over one of Canada’s great business empires.
September 17, 2019
DYNASTIES #2 – The Irvings
For almost a century, the Irving family has run New Brunswick like a personal fiefdom. They own the newspapers, the industry, and, according to some, even the government. So how does a single family come to so thoroughly dominate an entire province? And what happens when that family starts to fracture and split apart at the seams?
October 1, 2019
DYNASTIES #3 – The Fords
They call themselves the Canadian Kennedys. And they’re one of the most famous political dynasties to ever exist in this country. But the rise of the Ford family has been marred by violence and self-destruction at almost every turn. The story of the Fords is tragic — for them, for everyone who falls into their orbit, and for the people of Toronto.
October 15, 2019
COMMONS Needs Your Help
Canada is a big, weird, and complicated place. We want to keep telling you these stories, but we need your help.
October 29, 2019
DYNASTIES #4 – The Rizzutos
The Rizzutos are Canada’s first family of crime. For decades, they dominated Montreal’s underworld with an iron fist. With the help of corrupt politicians and police officers, the Rizzutos built one of the most fearsome and lucrative criminal enterprises this country has ever seen. Their reign was long and bloody. But their fall was even more gruesome.
November 12, 2019
DYNASTIES #5 – The Sahotas
The Sahotas are Vancouver’s most notorious slumlords. For decades they’ve let their buildings rot, leaving their tenants to live in filth and desolation. But the Sahotas are not like any other dynasty you’ve ever heard of. Their story is far stranger, and far darker, than anything you can imagine.
November 27, 2019
DYNASTIES #6 – The Desmarais
The Desmarais family is by far the most influential Canadian dynasty of the last half-century. But if you don’t live in Quebec, chances are you haven’t even heard of them. Paul Desmarais had Prime Ministers and Premiers in his pocket and billions of dollars at his disposal. He wasn’t just a Laurentian elite; he was the Laurentian emperor.
December 11, 2019
DYNASTIES #7 – The Olands
For 150 years, the Olands have been one of Canada’s most prominent brewing dynasties, the makers of Moosehead Beer. But in the last decade, they’ve made the news for much darker reasons. Richard Oland was murdered in 2011. And police and prosecutors believe that he was killed by his only son.
January 8, 2020
DYNASTIES #8 – The Regans
Gerald Regan was the premier of Nova Scotia, the founder of a powerful political dynasty, and one of the most prolific sexual predators in Canadian political history. Even after his death last November, few in the establishment are willing to recognize, let alone reckon with, his crimes.
January 22, 2020
DYNASTIES #9 – The Harts
The Harts are Canada’s first family of professional wrestling and one of the most famous dynasties the country has ever produced. And sure, wrestling is scripted. But what happens when reality begins to invade that fiction? The story of the Harts is one of triumph and tragedy that transcends the world of pro wrestling.
February 5, 2020
Introducing: Cool Mules
A new investigative series about the cocaine smuggling ring inside Vice Media.
March 1, 2020
Our New Season: RADICALS
Our new season is about the people who go to extreme lengths for what they believe in.
March 12, 2020
RADICALS #1 – Nazi Island in the Sun
It’s one of the most audacious plots in North American history. Turn a Caribbean island nation into a criminal state — then use the money to fund Neo-Nazis and Klansmen across Canada, the US and Europe. The scariest part? They almost pulled it off.
March 18, 2020
RADICALS #2 – They Buried Her Heart at Wounded Knee
There have been books and songs and plays written about Anna Mae Aquash. But she was no folk hero — she was flesh and blood. A young Mi'kmaq woman who took up arms against the United States government, Anna Mae was a revolutionary. But when she was found murdered in the South Dakotan countryside, it tore her movement apart. It took thirty years to find out who pulled the trigger. But that’s not the same thing as knowing who’s responsible for her murder.
April 1, 2020
RADICALS #3 – The Last Pandemic
It began as a mysterious disease from a far off place. It turned into the deadliest plague humanity has faced since the Black Death. AIDS has ravaged and reshaped us in so many ways. But in Canada, the battle against AIDS wasn’t just a fight against a virus. It was a fight against a system that didn’t care if some people lived or died.
April 15, 2020
An emergency season: PANDEMIC
A new season of COMMONS
April 27, 2020
PANDEMIC #1 – 33 Dead in Dorval
They were found abandoned in the facility. The conditions were described as “akin to a concentration camp.” Within two weeks, over thirty of them would be dead. The story of the Résidence Herron in Dorval, Quebec is a national shame. And a preview of the carnage still to come.
April 29, 2020
PANDEMIC #2 – When the Plague Came
Why did Commons drop everything and focus in on long-term care? Because the vast majority of deaths are happening in those homes. Because we should have known that was going to be the case, but we let it happen anyways. And because the level of suffering, isolation and trauma happening in long-term care today is almost too much for us to face up to.
May 2, 2020
PANDEMIC #3 – McKenzie Towne
The McKenzie Towne Continuing Care Centre has experienced the deadliest COVID-19 outbreak in Alberta. But some people say that their loved ones were killed by neglect at McKenzie Towne long before the pandemic even began.
May 6, 2020
PANDEMIC #4 – Ontario Reaps its Dividends
Over 1700 Ontarians have already been killed by COVID-19. And the vast majority of them died in long-term care. But if you live in a private, for-profit home, you’re much more likely to die from this virus. The for-profit long-term care industry is politically powerful and deeply entrenched. Is this their moment of reckoning?
May 13, 2020
PANDEMIC #5 – Shirley and Tracy
Tracy Rowley lost her surrogate mother to COVID-19 in a long-term care facility. But she’s determined that Shirley Egerdeen doesn’t become just another statistic. Tracy’s suing the company that runs the home. But one of the strangest things in this story is exactly who owns them.
May 20, 2020
PANDEMIC #6 – Northwood
Over the last two months, Nova Scotians have endured tragedy upon tragedy. The worst mass murder in modern Canadian history. A helicopter crash and the death of a Snowbirds’ pilot. And all the while, COVID-19 ravaged the biggest long-term care home in Atlantic Canada.
May 27, 2020
PANDEMIC #7 – The Frontline
Long-term care workers are in the vanguard in the war against COVID-19. They’re not the kinds of workers who get movies or TV shows made about them. In fact, their stories are rarely told. But not only are they battling heroically against this pandemic. They’re fighting for recognition and respect within a system built to marginalize them.
June 3, 2020
BONUS: The Honest Fakery of Wrestling
Wrestling is very real and Stampede Wrestling helped build World Wrestling Entertainment. Damian Abraham, host and creator of The Wrestlers, explains in this week's bonus COMMONS episode.
June 10, 2020
PANDEMIC #8 – Hunger Strike
Innis Ingram’s mother is his hero. But today, she’s living in one of the worst hit long-term care homes in Ontario. She has a terminal illness. Dozens and dozens of people around her have died, including her friend and roommate. And she’s had minimal human contact for three months. But even though he can’t be there with her, Innis is determined to get her the care she needs.
June 17, 2020
PANDEMIC #9 – Mend the World
After a stroke left him locked in his own body, Rabbi Ronnie Cahana has found ways to lead an incredibly full life. Then the pandemic came. It swept through Quebec, leaving a trail of devastation. Today, Rabbi Cahana is one of the thousands of Quebeckers left stranded in the middle of one of the worst disasters in modern Canadian history.
June 24, 2020
PANDEMIC #10 – Burn It Down
Jonathan Marchand is one of the thousands of young disabled people living in long-term care. But Marchand doesn’t want to fix the system. He doesn’t think it can be reformed. Marchand is an abolitionist. For a century and a half, Canada has hidden away disabled people in institutions where they were neglected and abused. Is long-term care just the latest incarnation of this dark history?
July 8, 2020
PANDEMIC #11 – It Didn’t Have To Be Like This
Four months after the first outbreak in a Canadian nursing home, over 7000 long-term residents have died of COVID-19. But if you look at the news or social media or our political debates, it seems like we’ve already moved on. Maybe that’s because it feels like this kind of tragedy was inevitable during a pandemic. It wasn’t. And we know that because in some places in Canada, politicians and public health officials made decisions that saved hundreds, if not thousands of lives.
July 22, 2020
PANDEMIC #12 – The Most Dangerous Story
In the final episode in our series about the COVID-19 pandemic and the crisis in long-term care, we’re going to tell you a different kind of story. A story of hope. About how the people we treat as disposable, can have lives of joy and dignity. And about one place where they were given exactly that.
August 5, 2020
Introducing our new season…
Stories about the power the police wield in Canada, and about the lengths they’re willing to go to hold on to it.
October 7, 2020
THE POLICE #1 – Julian Fantino
Julian Fantino may be the most famous cop in Canadian history, but during his rise, people critical of the police had a way of finding themselves in the crosshairs.
October 14, 2020
We Need Your Support
We want to keep doing this work. So this week we’re reflecting on the year behind us and talking about our goals for the future.
October 20, 2020
THE POLICE #2 – The Secret History of the RCMP
The RCMP is one of the most famous police forces in the world — the red serge and stetson hat are practically synonymous with Canada. But that image obscures the profound power the Mounties have held throughout Canadian history. And the dark legacy of ethnic cleansing and genocide at their core.
October 28, 2020
THE POLICE #3 – Dirty Tricks
He called himself the General. And he was at the heart of the RCMP's biggest scandal.
November 11, 2020
THE POLICE #4 – Starlight Tours
Thirty years later, we know some of what happened to Neil Stonechild. But we still don’t have justice. 
November 25, 2020
THE POLICE #5 – Toronto’s Finest
A Toronto police officer shoots and kills two Black men and is accused of beating another, all within a five-year span. He’s never found guilty of committing a crime. And he continues to rise through the ranks.   
December 9, 2020
THE POLICE #6 – Who Killed Myles Gray?
Myles Gray was an unarmed man who died after seven Vancouver police officers beat him mercilessly. Half a decade after he died, not only does his family not have justice, they don’t even know the names of the people who killed him.
December 23, 2020
THE POLICE #7 – The G20: Conspiracy
In the first of a two-part series on the G20, two mysterious strangers start volunteering with activist networks in southern Ontario. It’s all part of one of the biggest undercover police operations in Canadian history
January 13, 2021
THE POLICE #8 – The G20: Fortress Toronto
When John and Susan Pruyn came to Toronto, they were hoping to protest against the G20 and then spend some time with their daughter. Instead, they would be caught up in a whirlwind of police misconduct with few precedents in Canadian history.
January 27, 2021
THE POLICE #9 – Northern Patrol
For three decades, much of Northern Ontario has been engaged in an unprecedented experiment in policing. It’s called the Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service. And the idea is simple: the old, colonial cops shouldn’t be policing Indigenous territory. Instead, Indigenous people should police themselves.
February 10, 2021
THE POLICE #10 – Portapique
Almost a year after the worst mass shooting in modern Canadian history, Nova Scotians are still in the dark about what exactly happened. A gunman, dressed in an RCMP uniform, driving an RCMP cruiser killed 22 people.
February 24, 2021
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