Canadian Red Cross in urgent need of emergency care workers in N.B.

The Canadian Red Cross in New Brunswick is putting out a call for more emergency care workers, as the COVID-19 pandemic has put a strain on the health-care system.

To help with current and future outbreaks, the organization is currently looking to hire two hundred emergency care workers in the province. Bill Lawlor, the provincial director for New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island told CTV that their main focus right now is supporting long-term care homes during outbreaks

"What's transpired over the last several weeks is a significant uptick in cases and also outbreaks within long-term care facilities," said Lawlor.

"You have some who need to stay home because of self-isolation requirements, maybe they tested positive themselves or determined to be a close contact with a positive case."

Lawlor said some long-term care facilities may already be facing a staffing shortage, a problem that increasingly gets worse when there is an outbreak.

In addition to an increase in staff shortages, the need for more health care services and support for seniors is even greater during this time.

Lawlor says the Red Cross has been assisting with the outbreak at the Drew Nursing Home in Sackville, N.B.

Michael Keating, the interim executive director with the New Brunswick Nursing Home Association says that 19 residents and 10 employees at the home have tested positive since the outbreak began and that not all staff members were fully vaccinated. The outbreak has led to six deaths, according to Keating.

Cecile Cassista, with the New Brunswick Coalition for Seniors and Nursing Home Resident's Rights, says she's heard from families who are concerned about their loved ones who are residing in nursing homes.

"Visiting your families for 30 minutes, or even through a window, is really not acceptable. I think that if we had kept the restrictions in place, today we'd be in a much better situation, but our numbers are just climbing out of control," said Cassista.

On Tuesday, New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs announced that staff in long-term care facilities must be fully vaccinated by Nov. 19. After that deadline, employees who are not fully vaccinated and do not have a medical exemption will be sent home without pay.

"When staff in the nursing homes are off sick or isolating, that impacts the staff that is currently there so we're left for many seniors not having their bath, you know 15 days without a bath, that's not acceptable," she said. "So, I really think that because it's affecting our most vulnerable population, we have to make sure the rules are not lifted."