A nursing assistant out of one of Quebec’s most infamous COVID-19 hotspots said she had to lie about her symptoms before she could get tested – and if she hadn’t, she would likely have triggered a new epidemic.
Kristy-Lyn Kemp worked at the Herron long-term care home, the site of one of the first and largest outbreaks in a Quebec care home, from 2018 to last month.
After she left, she had to start working in another long-term care home in Lachine. She wanted to take a test first, she said. But when she called the hotline to request a test, she was refused.
“I said that I worked at Herron … that I had been dealing with people who were sick and deceased from the virus, and I also said that I would like to be tested,” she said.
“They told me I didn’t need a test.”
She also wanted to know the results because her mom lives with her, she said.
Her mother, Karen Kemp, said her daughter was so stressed that she encouraged her to cry every night, to “let her out.”
“I know it’s not too professional, but she needed it, or she would have cracked,” she said. “And she almost did.”
Kemp said she decided to lie, saying she had a fever and a cough. It was then that she finally qualified for the test. And it turned out to be positive.
Kemp now says that all staff in long-term care homes need tests regardless of symptoms.
“The thought that I could have left and started my new job and bring it with me, and started a new epidemic, is terrifying,” she said.
Quebec’s chief public health administrator, Horatio Arruda, said that how tests can be generalized “depends on ability” and that health authorities “go where there are symptoms”, except in certain circumstances.
Kemp is in quarantine now, waiting for it to be declared non-infectious.