‘I cry before my guards’: Calgary ICU nurse dies on suspicion of drug overdose after frontline abuse

KALGARI –

Season Foremsky is remembered for her kind and caring personality, as someone who would do anything for her two little girls and loved to make others smile.

The Calgary ICU and ER nurse cared for COVID-19 patients on the South Health Campus throughout the pandemic, but died tragically this week after a suspected overdose of drugs.

Her boyfriend of seven months, Christian Moniz, wrote the following message in a Facebook post.

“My heart is broken, my love left this world on September 27, and I am in shock,” it read.

“Baby you made me feel really seen and loved like no other and I will miss you infinitely, see you in heaven with all the angels and thank you for the time we had, it was a blessing.”

Although there is no information on what caused the suspected overdose, family members have confirmed to CTV News that Foremsky had previously struggled with a substance abuse problem.

But in the month before her death, Foremsky outlined a different kind of struggle on her social media pages, detailing the traumas and assaults she faced while working on the front lines.

“I got my first vaccine in December, was on AHS TV and could not mage the disgusting comments people made, but I still gave the best care I could,” read a Facebook post made by Foremsky on September 17.

“Fast forward to‘ the best summer ever ’as we healthcare professionals cried and we are scared. We have PTSD, went on medical leave, and even quite because every single one of us saw this wave coming. Now I’m tired, I cry before my guards, I have severe anxiety, but I still provide the best care I can. ”

Foremsky added that she found it extremely difficult to see young children say goodbye to family members who were once completely healthy but would inevitably still succumb to the COVID-19 virus.

She spoke out against protesters outside hospitals who “claimed their rights” were taken away, and asked others to recognize the health crisis.

“Do not think only of yourself,” wrote Foremsky. “I’m not saying get the vaccine, I’m saying you should keep your mask on, social distance, do not go out when you are sick.

“And then help me god you block my ambulances to get into my ER, I drive you down. Protesting elsewhere than a hospital. ”

Like many other nurses, In another Facebook post on August 12, Foremsky admitted that she worked 60 hours a week and began to feel the burnout of the pandemic.

She says she was humbled by the support of community members behind the nurses, but the pressure from Alberta’s overwhelmed ICU system was exacerbated by her and her colleagues.

“Our health care system is on the verge of a complete collapse everywhere. Nurses are not tired, we are done. RRTs are not burnt out, they are (explosive) performed. EMS, technology, doctors, PCTs, any healthcare provider is completely defeated, “Foremsky wrote.

“I work consistently short-staffed, and I mean dangerously short-staffed, but still nothing has changed, or if it does, they want us to go backwards. This last year of my life has actually been a living nightmare. ”

Season Foremsky was a nurse at the emergency room and ICU in Calgary, documenting on social media about the abuse she and other frontline health workers face. Foremsky died after a suspected overdose. (Delivered)

CTV News contacted the Foremsky family for comment, but the family has requested privacy as they continue to mourn their loss.

Alberta Health Services’ CEO, Dr. Verna Yiu, dealt with Foremsky’s death briefly at a press conference on Thursday.

“Our frontline doctors and nurses are under extreme stress and pressure,” Yiu said.

“The pandemic affects individuals and our teams both physically and mentally.”

‘WE FAILED HERE’: MISUSE OF NETWORKS

When Petra Schulz, co-founder of the drug abuse network Moms Stop the Harm, heard the news of Foremsky’s passing, she felt sad but mostly angry.

“We let her down on so many levels,” Schulz said

“It simply came to our notice then. We failed because of the stigma and criminalization of people using drugs that make people hide their use. We let her down because we pushed her so hard as an ICU nurse that she needed ways to cope. ”

Schulz says Foremsky’s death was completely preventable, adding that an average of five Albanians die each day from an overdose of opioids.

She notes that the more funding needed for outlets and injury reduction services across the province along with additional resources specifically available to healthcare professionals.

“This is the time when we need to focus on keeping people as good as possible, and nothing is being done in that regard in this province, no effort has been made in that direction,” she said.

“We must expand the harm reduction, but we must also provide access to a safe pharmaceutical alternative to toxic street drugs, because that is why people die. Street medicines are increasingly toxic, and if you give them alternatives, you connect them with healthcare in a positive way. ”

Schulz says a member of the Foremsky family has contacted Moms Stop The Harm in an attempt to help relatives cope with this difficult situation.

60 percent of nurses planning to leave their jobs: STUDY

Burnout and mental health issues are becoming increasingly problematic in the workplace for frontline nurses, according to the recent ‘Outlook on Nursing’ snapshot study published by the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU).

The study, which examined 7,153 regulated Canadian nurses across the country, found that:

  • 60 percent of nurses intend to leave their jobs within the next year;
  • 27 percent of nurses intending to leave their jobs plan to seek a non-nurse role;
  • 80 percent of nurses report physical violence from patients and families at work, and;
  • 66 percent of nurses rated the quality of their work environment as reasonable or poor.

CFNU chairwoman Linda Silas says working conditions for nurses are becoming unstable from a mental health perspective as frontline workers deal with the constant pressure of the pandemic.

She says many nurses are redistributed to COVID units where they are not placed in a role they are fully familiar with.

“Knowing if you have enough staff to handle your workload every day is just building, it’s building stress, but it’s building for the whole team not being able to do your job properly all the time,” said Silas. .

“You have to imagine that the pressure comes on three fronts. You have your own professional expectations, you do not want to leave your colleagues, your patients, and then you have your family pressure, just to look at overtime, which has increased in Canada by 78 percent in the last year. ”

Silas called the news of Foremsky’s death “extremely heartbreaking” as she offered her condolences to family members, colleagues and friends who were closest to her.

“I send all my condolences and strength to her family and friends, but unfortunately she was not the first, and if we do not find a way to support our workforce, she is not the last,” said Silas.

“Governments need to get their heads out of the sand. This is not a political game. We all need to be at the same table, we need to treat our nurses or healthcare professionals with respect, and we need to do it now. ”

CFNU currently works with close to one million healthcare workers across the country, but says there is no federal agency to collect data on best practices, ways to retain staff or recruitment strategies.

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