County home workers face possible firing if refuse COVID-19 testing

Employees of Elgin’s three long-term care homes could potentially face being fired if they refuse mandatory medical testing on a regular basis for COVID-19.

County councillors at an emergency meeting on Thursday morning, July 23, adopted a new policy stating that those who didn’t submit to regular testing couldn’t work and, if they were treating that as unpaid vacation time, could even be fired on the basis of “abandonment of work.”

County Administrator Julie Gonyou allowed the nasal swab used for testing at the COVID-19 assessment centre at St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital was “invasive,” penetrating three or four inches into the nasal cavity and causing a brief, unpleasant sense of shock.

A small percentage of workers reported suffering nosebleeds, headaches and anxiety as a result, she said.

The new policy would require them to seek an appointment with their family physicians within seven days of refusing the nasal swab test, which was considered the most effective means of detecting COVID-19, for potential alternative testing that might be available, she stated. However, the nasal swab was considered most accurate.

More in the July 29 edition of The Aylmer Express.