"Help me, I am sick!"

Melanie Fournier at home sick with Covid-19

“Monitor yourself, you are alone.” This is the overall message that D.D.O. resident Melanie Fournier, a woman in her early 40’s, felt that she received from health officials when she became ill with the COVID-19 virus.

Fournier became ill due to the Coronavirus the weekend before last and has been quarantined at her home in D.D.O. since that time, along with her two children.

Fournier works for the government in health and social services and says that she took all the precautions necessary to avoid getting sick as suggested at that time which included social distancing and avoiding unnecessary travel. She did not travel at all since the government warning had been issued.

Fournier called 811 after she began to experience symptoms and waited two-hours on the line before the voice on the other line told her that she was not eligible for testing because she did not travel. “Help me, I am sick, I know I am sick.” she pleaded on the line. After spending thirty minutes arguing her case to the responder; she was finally given permission to receive testing. “I refused to hang up until they would agree to test me.” Fournier told The Suburban.

The criteria for testing have changed significantly in the last two weeks, but what about all the people like Melanie Fournier who were flat out refused testing and did not fight for 30 minutes on the phone to get their spot? Did they stay home fighting the unknown alone? Did they go out? And how many are there? These are important questions that Fournier along with many others are asking themselves.

Two days after she phoned 811 and at the height of her fever, Fournier went to her appointment at the testing center in Beaconsfield. She stood in a socially distant line up after following instructions to wash her hands and wear a mask. “A nurse came and swabbed my mouth, then handed me a pamphlet on how to take care of myself at home and that was it.” Fournier explained to The Suburban. Two days later, she received the call that she tested positive for COVID-19 and was advised to remain in quarantine at her home to recover on her own unless she experienced breathing difficulties. Fournier followed the instructions and stayed home alone caring for her two children, one of who has special needs and is non-verbal. “I never saw a doctor and if I had any other concerns or questions, I would have had to call 811 again and wait on the line,” she said. “It was a very scary thought.” she explained.

“There is this false sense of security that people have right now that if they fall sick, they will automatically receive care by dialing a number, the reality quite different.” Fournier told The Suburban. “We are told to stay home and get better on our own and depending on a person’s situation, that can be very difficult.” she explained. As the primary caregiver in her home, Fournier had to make sure that her children’s needs we’re met while trying to nurse herself back to health. “The fever was actually painful and I felt weak and confused, but as a mother they are my primary concern and I was determined to get through this.” Fournier explained emotionally between coughs.

Fournier reached out to her West Island community for support and received food and supplies delivered right to her doorstep. “I am very grateful to the people that came forward to help me and my children and I feel like I have a moral responsibility to inform and to help others, which will be a lot easier once I recover.” she told The Suburban.

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