‘I don’t get to shower’: Ontario hospital patient calls for easing of COVID-19 protocols

A young Ontario woman is calling for changes to COVID-19 protocols for some needing treatment in hospital during the Omicron wave.

Jenna Bolzon is being treated at Peterborough Regional Health Centre working to regain her speech and movement after a stroke-like episode brought paralysis to her left side in December.

The 21-year-old patient said her stay and therapies were going well until a health-care worker that came into her room, spoke with her briefly and dropped off pills, tested positive for COVID-19 — putting Bolzon into isolation since January 3.

“It really has destroyed my mental health. I don’t see anyone. I don’t get to leave my room. I don’t get see outside, my window is boarded up due to construction. I don’t get to shower,” Bolzon told CTV News Toronto.

Bolzon said because there is no hot water in her bathroom, she needs to use the shower room across the hall but isn’t allowed to go there while in isolation. She said after six days in isolation, a nurse decided to help.

“I cried and cried and cried and my nurse came in, she said ‘this is not okay,’” said Bolzon.

“So she risked her whole job, her whole income and brought me to the shower room and gave me a shower because she said ‘I’m not going to let you sit like this.’”

Hospital

Bolzon said it’s been seven days now since that shower on top of the fact her therapies have also been seriously impacted, now relegated to her room.

“My therapies are down to basically nothing because they can’t bring me to the gym or let me walk in the hallways. It’s really horrible.”

Bolzon said COVID-19 protocols need to change.

She said she’s tested negative a few times and has no symptoms, but that doesn’t change her isolation status.

She also worries about other stroke patients, who may not survive and may not be able to see loved ones.

“It breaks my heart. I’m here not just for me. I’m here for everyone, every patient out there. We are all suffering because of these protocols that even the staff don’t agree with. The staff are fighting so hard for me to get out of isolation because they don’t agree with it and don’t understand why.”

Bolzon said she hopes to get out of isolation Saturday, but doesn’t know for sure if it will happen.

HOSPITAL WORKING HARD TO ‘BALANCE PATIENT SAFETY AND CARE’

“Like hospitals across the province, we are working hard to balance patient safety and care needs at a time when we are seeing a significant increase in transmission of COVID-19 throughout our community, as well as staffing shortages related to this wave of the pandemic,” said Dr. Lynn Mikula, EVP, chief of staff, and chief medical executive at Peterborough Regional Health Centre in a statement to CTV News Toronto.

“While we understand that the heightened infection control practices we have in place at this time can be difficult for patients and their families, these measures are critical to preventing the transmission of illness between patients, family members and health-care workers.”

Mikula said the hospital can’t speak to the specifics of any patient case, but the hospital does work with families to address concerns and provide additional accommodations wherever possible, and has a patient relations department in place to provide additional support.

“Our goal is to learn from the experiences of patients and their families in order to continuously improve the care we provide,” Mikula said. 

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