As Quebec continues its fight to recruit and maintain staff in hospitals, nursing homes and clinics, one orderly says bureaucracy is preventing her from returning to work.
Pamela Villeneuve is off the job following a workplace injury.
“I was cleaning up a patient. When he stood up, his diaper fell, and he kept walking while I tried to pick it up. He kept walking, and my wrist twisted,” the orderly recounted to CTV News.
She kept working despite the pain but was eventually forced to apply for worker’s compensation and stay home while awaiting surgery.
But Villeneuve says she was placed on a long waiting list, and that she’s looking at two years of pain while she sits at home.
Exploring her options, she consulted a private surgeon who works outside the Quebec health insurance system.
The private clinic said the procedure would cost $10,000. Villeneuve assumed Quebec’s workplace safety commission (CNESST) would foot the bill, but she says it refused.
“They told me, due to protocol, ‘we will never pay for private surgeries,'” Villeneuve said.
She says the CNESST instead agreed to pay her salary for at least two years while she waits for surgery in a public hospital — a move that would be far more costly than $10,000.
“(That’s) between 70 and 80 per cent of my salary, so roughly $37,000 a year. Make any sense to you?” said Villeneuve.
In a statement, CNESST said it couldn’t comment on individual cases but said a worker who has been injured on the job is “entitled to the services of the health professionals of his or her choice, when required by his or her condition as a result of the employment injury.”
“Surgeries performed in private clinics may be reimbursed under certain conditions, notably if the service is not offered in a public health establishment. In all cases, eligible costs are reimbursed at the rate set by the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ),” the statement continues.
Patient right’s advocate Paul Brunet said Villeneuve’s account is troubling.
“The CNESST goes and hires some private doctors, some private health professionals, to solve certain cases,” he said.
“I dont understand why they wont do the same for an employee of the health system who can help the system and help the reduction of wait times.”
In the meantime, Villeneuve says she’d much rather return to work than collect benefits.
“If I was eligible to get a loan at the bank, at this point in my life, I would get it. I wouldn’t fight anymore, I’m in that much pain.”