Dozens of Nurses Exposed to COVID-19 at St. Mary’s General Hospital; ONA calls for expedited testing, collaboration with employer to ensure nurses, patients are safe

March 21, 2020

KITCHENER, ON, March 21, 2020 – The Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) is calling for St. Mary’s General Hospital to work collaboratively with ONA Local leaders and its front-line workers to expedite COVID-19 testing and support the more than 50 nurses who have been exposed to the coronavirus while caring for a patient.

“Registered nurses were exposed while caring for a patient who presented at the emergency department and was screened for influenza, but not COVID-19,” says ONA President Vicki McKenna, RN. “Nurses were exposed as they performed emergency medical procedures on the patient that made the virus borne by air; the patient was not isolated. And worst of all, nurses were unable to access N95 respirators when they performed the procedures, as their employer strongly discourages nurses wearing them.”

McKenna says that more nurses were exposed to COVID-19 by a co-worker; several nurses have subsequently become sick.

“This is a clear example of what should never happen in health care,” says McKenna. “This province cannot afford to take chances with the health of our front-line nurses and health-care workers – patients will need them more than ever in the coming weeks.

“I am calling on St. Mary’s Hospital to work openly, honestly and collaboratively with ONA to expedite COVID-19 testing for all nurses and health-care workers who were exposed, support them as they await their results, ensure that screening protocols are followed and proper protective equipment is worn. We just cannot afford to lose nurses now.”

ONA is the union representing more than 68,000 registered nurses and health-care professionals, as well as 18,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.

For more information:

Sheree Bond (416) 986-8240;