16 January 2022 – 09:56
Vernon taxi company manager says he’s caught between ‘a rock and a hard place’ when it comes to deciding whether or not to pick up healthcare workers from affected facilities by COVID-19 outbreaks.
Vernon Taxi manager Dave Kassam told iNFOnews.ca that his company’s policy is not to support healthcare workers if the facility where they work is currently going through a COVID-19 outbreak.
“We try to do what we think is right to protect everyone in the community,” Kassam told iNFOnews.ca. “We’re just trying to keep everyone safe, because if that person goes in and out of a lockdown facility, the chances of them catching (COVID-19) right now is probably very high and then spreading to us and anyone else who enters our cars.”
Currently, there are outbreaks of COVID-19 in Vernon at The Hamlets and Heritage Square Facility.
Hassam reiterates that he is just doing what he believes is right to protect his drivers and the public.
“I wish we had a better response, but there’s not much we can do without putting everyone at risk,” he added.
READ MORE: COVID outbreaks declared at three more nursing homes at Interior Health
However, one healthcare worker, who wishes to remain anonymous, sees the policy as discriminating against essential workers.
The healthcare worker is currently working at The Hamlets assisted living and long-term care home, which is currently closed following an outbreak of COVID-19, Interior Health reported on January 9.
The health worker said she regularly used the taxi service to and from work.
On January 11, a colleague of hers was denied a Vernon Taxi ride due to the outbreak.
Hassam says he sympathizes with the caregivers.
“I know the caregivers are doing front line work, but so are we and we are trying to protect ourselves, our passengers and everyone else,” he said.
After being contacted by iNFOnews.ca, Kassam spoke to Hamlets who advised all staff to take a COVID-19 test before each shift.
“Now they are testing (staff) every day which is game changing so we are back to get them back,” Kassam said.
The taxi manager said when care homes had been closed before due to COVID-19 outbreaks, rapid testing was not a thing.
But what if a nursing home employee catches COVID-19 at work and then calls an elevator home?
“It’s really scary,” he said. “And I’ll leave that to my drivers.”
Kassam believes the vast majority of his drivers are fully vaccinated, but he didn’t enforce vaccinations, so he had no way of knowing for sure.
But he reiterated, “we’re back to get them back.”
To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips at the press room and be entered to win a monthly raffle.
We appreciate your comments and opinions on our stories, but play well. We will not censor or delete comments unless they contain off-topic statements or links, unnecessary vulgarity, false facts, spam or obviously fake profiles. If you have any concerns about what you see in the comments, email the editor in the link above.
News from © iNFOnews, 2022