Courtesy David Daigle
MONTREAL – The husband of the emergency physician at the Granby hospital who committed suicide a few days ago agrees to speak out, in the midst of his immense mourning, to underline the great distress experienced by health workers who have been working hard on the pandemic front for ten months.
Dr. Karine Dion took her own life earlier this month; for her husband, David Daigle, there is no doubt that the pandemic played a role in this tragedy. Ms. Dion, 35, has never contracted COVID-19, but has been on sick leave twice in the past year – the first time at the end of March, after a burnout due to anxiety related to the novel coronavirus.
It was Mr. Daigle who decided to tell his story, hoping that everyone who needs help during the pandemic will have access to appropriate care. “I don’t want my wife’s death to be forgotten,” he said in a telephone interview on Wednesday. Several that I know in the health field suffer and are in depression, but continue to work anyway. ”
Mr. Daigle had just participated in a commemorative ceremony Wednesday at the Granby hospital, where his wife had worked in the emergency room for six years. Staff had placed photos of Dr. Dion in a room and colleagues were invited to write messages in a condolence book.
Mr. Daigle says that his wife had first worked for four years in Chibougamau, in the North of Quebec, before moving to the Eastern Townships, where she had been an emergency physician in Granby for six years. Mr Daigle is certain that his wife has been a collateral victim of the pandemic – that his sanity has been undermined by this relentless work.
Return to work too quickly
Dr. Dion had been involved in planning for the first wave of COVID-19 in her hospital last winter before going on sick leave at the end of March. She returned to work after a few weeks – a bit too quickly, according to her family. “She was no longer herself,” says Daigle. After that, she started working again too quickly: she felt like she was at war, she wanted to help everyone. “
This lasted until September, when she returned on forced leave. “She felt guilty for having stopped working and for having left her colleagues all alone: she was completely in guilt and distress.”
Doctor Dion, who was supported by her family and health professionals, had set up an online support group for health care workers in the Eastern Townships. A few days before her death, Mr. Daigle felt she was doing better: she even planned to return to work in mid-February.
The Quebec Association of Emergency Physicians was saddened to learn of the death of Dr. Dion on Monday. “The next few weeks are likely to be trying for doctors and their colleagues in emergency departments and hospitals,” writes the association on its Facebook page. It invites its members, in case of distress, to seek help and support from specialized organizations.
Mr. Daigle, he decided to speak publicly – it is not in his nature, he says – “to open a light and say that we must be careful”.
“My wife was an extraordinary, exceptional woman, and I will never forget her,” he drops off the phone.
Karine Dion was the mother of a seven year old boy. Relatives launched a fundraising campaign a few days ago on the “GoFundMe” site to create a scholarship for little Jacob. As of Wednesday afternoon, we had raised nearly $ 37,000.
Are you in a crisis situation? Need help? If you are in Canada, find web references and telephone lines open 24 hours a day in your province by clicking on this link.
SEE: COVID-19 harms mental health