Nurse Kristy-Lyn Kemp did not display any symptoms for COVID-19 when she resigned from long-term care home CHSLD Herron in Dorval. But before starting a new job at another senior center, she faked coronavirus symptoms so she could be tested. The results back positive, according to Global News.
“So I called (the Covid-19 hotline). … I told them I had been working at Herron, it was a Covid hot zone, I was around the sick, I was around people who were passing away but I was asymptomatic and they told me flat out, ‘nope you don’t need a test,” said Kemp.
She said she called back a second time but spoke French, fearing that they would recognize her voice, and pretended to be ill.
“I made up symptoms. I said I had a fever, I have a cough.”
She obtained a testing appointment at the Beaconsfield testing center—24 hours later she learned she had tested positive for the virus.
“I couldn’t believe the fact that I had to fight and lie to get a test and the possibility that I could have gone to my new job and brought it with me is absolutely terrifying,” said Kemp.
She backed away from her duties after working as a nurse at CHSLD Herron in Dorval at the peak of the Covid-19 outbreak.
The CHSLD Herron residence west of Montreal is currently under investigation following the deaths of 31 residents in a matter of mere weeks.
“I’m still struggling with the idea that we lost so many people,” Kemp said.
Kemp decided to try and help in other ways. She served soup, talked to seniors, and sat with residents who would have died alone.
Kemp said her boss agreed with the new arrangement.
But when the Herron residence was placed under government trusteeship, she said West Island Public Health authorities gave her an ultimatum—continue as a nurse or not at all.
She responded by resigning from Herron and accepted a new position at a seniors residence in Lachine.
The West Island Public Health Board elected not to comment on the specifics of Kemp's case.
"Employees must have symptoms to be tested and the national screening strategy focuses on those at highest risk," spokesperson Guillaume Bérubé wrote in a statement.
A spokesperson for a nurses' union agree with the current testing criteria, but also sympathized with what Kemp had to endure.
"I don’t think you should fake a symptom to ask to be tested, I think you should ask and it should be available," said Elizabeth Rich, a spokesperson for the West Island Public Health Board Nurses Union.
Kemp must receive two negative results before she is permitted to head back out on the front lines.