Protest gridlock causes commuting delays for health care workers

Gridlock from this weekend’s protest against COVID-19 mandates made it difficult for health care workers to commute between Ottawa and Gatineau.

For Dr. Cindi Jacques, a hematologist at the Gatineau Hospital, there was no question that she needed to get into work despite the major traffic delays.

“We took that oath all those years ago to look after sick people in their time of need,” said Dr. Jacques.

She says that the majority of her patients who are hospitalized are cancer patients, while others have life-threatening conditions.

“We have to be here in person to give patients the care they need,” she said.

Dr. Jacques’ regular commute of 35 minutes turned into two hours and 45 minutes on Saturday evening.

“As I approached the bridge it was total gridlock and all red lights,” she said. “The cars were absolutely not moving.”

She ended up turning around and opted to pay for the ferry to get home.

While a colleague offered her a place to stay in Gatineau for the night, she wanted to get home to see her family after a long week and before heading back to the hospital on Sunday.

“It’s just not an option to do this work from home,” she said.

Multiple closures are still in place including the Alexandria Bridge, Portage Bridge, and lane closures on the MacDonald-Cartier Bridge.

The situation is creating anxiety for health care workers who will be commuting between Ottawa and Gatineau on Monday.

“I’m very stressed to get into work,” said Krista Bolestridge, an assistant at a doctor’s office. “I do not drive and I do rely on transit, but right now none of the Gatineau buses are going into Ottawa.”

Bolestridge said she has also had no luck arranging for a taxi.

The situation also stressful for Dr. Tanya Di Valentin, the chief of hematology-oncology at Gatineau Hospital.

“Tomorrow it’s back to the routine and we will have to face whatever is waiting for us on the bridges,” said Dr. By Valentin.

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