Social work technician latest Quebec health-care worker to die due to COVID-19 complications
Laurence Menard, a 33-year-old social work technician in central Quebec, is the latest health-care worker to succumb to COVID-19 in the province.
In a statement published Tuesday, the APTS union representing professional and technical health services staff said Menard worked for the community health clinic in Drummond, Que., and died "following complications due to COVID-19, contracted in the course of her employment."
The young woman from Acton Vale, Que., was a single mother to a young boy.
While an epidemiological investigation will be carried out to confirm the source, her family received confirmation that a coronavirus screening test came back positive.
Her younger sister said Menard started experiencing symptoms of the disease last Friday -- her birthday.
"She went to bed, she felt tired, but to her, it was surely due to the fact that she had been working a lot lately," Virginie Menard explained.
Laurence Menard's fever spiked on Saturday, and by Sunday she started to suffer from chest pain. After calling a health line, she was advised to go to the hospital. She called an ambulance and was able to walk to it, her sister said.
Early Monday, her parents received a call asking them to head quickly to Montreal, where their daughter had been transferred because her condition was deteriorating. When they arrived, she had already died.
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Virginie Menard said her sister did not suffer from any chronic illness or other serious condition, and she had recently undergone a rigorous health examination which hadn't turned up any issues.
As part of her duties, she ensured home support for patients, including the elderly.
"Her clientele was mainly in seniors residences, including one where we know there were cases," her sister said.
Union representative Veronique Neth said that social work technicians did not have personal protective equipment at the start of the epidemic, but more stringent instructions have since been imposed.
Those include wearing a mask and using hand sanitizer.
But Neth said despite their efforts, the nature of their work isn't compatible with the two-metre physical distancing rules, especially when you have to meet people at home and sit at the same table.
Virginie Menard said her big sister was appreciated by everyone.
"She had a million friends and I see it with all the messages I've received," she said. "Laurence had a lot of character, she had guts. She was frank and did not beat around the bush."
Neth added that Menard had a "huge heart" and had worked to improve the working conditions of her peers.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, three Quebec orderlies have also reportedly died from COVID-19 -- Victoria Salvan, Stephanie Tessier and Marina Thenor Louis.
Huy Hao Dao was the first doctor in Quebec known to have died of COVID-19. The 45-year-old was a COVID-19 researcher and investigator, tracking down infected patients to learn how they caught the virus and with whom they came into contact.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 6, 2020.