Struggling to fill empty shifts for front-line workers, the Rekai Centres’ long-term care staff telephoned 1,000 former health-care interns asking for their help.

Fourteen agreed. Only eight appeared for work. And one didn’t return the following day.

“I think overall people are afraid of being in homes with COVID,” said Rekai Centres CEO Sue Graham-Nutter. “I can understand. It’s not easy.”

At the Ross Memorial Hospital in Lindsay, an executive emailed registered practical nurse Meghann Burley, asking if she would take temporary leave and help her former employer, Bobcaygeon’s Pinecrest Nursing Home, where at least 28 residents have died from COVID.

Burley thought about the request for a day, then said yes. It made sense, logically, she said, because unlike so many other health-care workers, she does not have children or older family members living in her home.

She returned to the home in late March, working afternoon and morning shifts, dressed in goggles, masks, a face shield and gloves.