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Canadian nurses cross border to care for American sufferers: “It’s not a border, just a line we cross”

Detroit nurse Brent Gale’s commute sometimes begins at 6 a.m. – and overseas. He works at St. Mary Mercy Livonia Hospital in Metro Detroit however lives throughout the Detroit River in Windsor, Canada.

Many of Gale’s sufferers typically neglect that he is not from the U.S. till he says “about” or makes use of Canadian expressions, he says.

“I cross that international border every day, so when someone here says they were late because of traffic, I’m like, ‘I came from another country,’” he instructed CBS News’ Adriana Diaz.

He’s not alone in his commute. At least 1,500 Canadians work in healthcare in Michigan, some drawn by extra job alternatives. 

The small military of Canadians has risked their lives, particularly within the spring of 2020 when COVID-19 ravaged the U.S. and there have been extra every day COVID deaths in Michigan than in all of Canada. 

“It sucked, it was really bad. You’d see the wave coming and you’re like, ‘Okay, we survived it,’” he stated. “Then that next wave was coming again before you could catch your breath.”

Despite the grim circumstances, Gale stated it will have been “cowardly” to abandon his American neighbors throughout a time of want.

“It’s not a border, it’s just a line we cross,” he stated. “And we’re the same people, you know? And I just think it would have been horribly cowardly to abandon my American cousins.”

Canadian Lyndsey LaFleur, who’s been an ER nurse at Detroit’s Henry Ford Hospital for practically 5 years, nonetheless remembers final spring’s surge prefer it was yesterday, recalling how overwhelmed she felt and the way she “cried a lot.”

“I just remember thinking, ‘What is going on? We’re running out of ventilators, everybody needs to be intubated,’” she stated. 

“I just remember standing in the middle of the department and just looking around, like, dumbfounded and sad,” she stated.

At COVID’s worst in Detroit, she had a new child at residence in Canada and regarded strolling away from nursing.

“I was really nervous. … She was really young, so we had her sleeping in a pack and play in our room,” she recalled. “And I was sleeping in her room in a tent because I wanted to like conceal myself somehow.”

The commute throughout the worldwide border to Detroit hasn’t deterred LaFleur, who says she loves the town, the hospital she works for, the folks she works with, and Detroiters.

But again residence in Canada, there was some resistance to their cross-border work. There was form of a “stigma” hooked up to their efforts — “you know, you’re carrying the disease back and forth,” Gale stated, noting that there was a name within the native paper to have Canadians banned from touring backwards and forwards throughout the border.

LaFleur described the “stress” she felt from her group merely for doing her job.

“People were like, ‘We thank you for all that you do, but at the same time, don’t come near me,’” LaFleur stated.

Both nurses contracted COVID: Gale grew to become contaminated when a affected person’s intubation tube got here free, and LaFleur thinks she might have gotten it in Windsor – fortunately, her daughter did not. They’ve since recovered and stay dedicated as ever, nonetheless treating their sufferers with a smile.

The two sides of the river are one group, and the nurses shield their very own.

“This is our big deal, you know? This is our burning building,” Gale stated. “This is what we run to and what we’ve been trained for, like our moment to shine.”