Toronto Canada                   -               At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadian nurse Nikki Hillis-Walters was asked to choose between her two healthcare jobs -- one in Canada, and one in the United States. She picked the latter, telling AFP: “It just felt like I was needed there.” She and 2,000 other healthcare professionals live in Windsor, Ontario but work in hospitals across the border in Detroit, Michigan. Dozens like her, with split work in both jurisdictions, were similarly pressured by employers to quit one job to focus on the other. Canadian hospital administrators feared they might pick up the coronavirus in the United States where the pandemic has hit hardest and pass it to patients or others in this country.

Hillis-Walters until recently had worked weekdays in Canada and weekends in the United States, but decided to stay in the intensive care unit at Beaumont Hospital in Grosse Pointe, just east of Detroit.

The hospital was overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases and needed her most.

“It was already pretty bad,” said the 38-year-old nurse. “We already had a lot of staff getting sick, a lot of patients coming in.”

The ultimatum given to healthcare workers has been criticized by some as an ineffective way of containing the virus, while creating financial hardships for frontline workers with split jobs facing a loss of income.

It’s not about “picking sides,” said Hillis-Walters, whose husband is American.

Her efforts to “get people better” and contain infections in the United States helps prevent the spread of the coronavirus, she explained.

“It just felt like it was the best thing to do for both countries,” she said.

It’s a short commute across the Detroit River that separates the two cities.

Canadians nurses are drawn to higher wages and greater opportunities in Detroit -- with its population of roughly four million being 10 times that of its sister city.