While occupancy rates and waiting times in Quebec emergency rooms are already reaching high levels, Quebec warns that the situation could continue in the coming weeks. We even anticipate congestion in other first-line options.
In a press release published Tuesday morning, the Ministry of Health and Social Services explains the state of affairs by the circulation of respiratory viruses as well as the pressure tactics exerted by public service unions.
On Tuesday, the government dashboard indicated that 4,064 patients were in the network’s emergency rooms and that among them 1,025 patients were waiting to see a doctor. The average length of time spent in the waiting room was 4 hours 45 minutes, while the average length of time spent on a stretcher was 19 hours 30 minutes.
In the Douglas, Pierre-Le Gardeur, Lanaudière, Barrie Memorial and Mont-Laurier hospitals, the emergency occupancy rate exceeded the 200% threshold. Other establishments were very close to this same threshold, namely the Anna-Laberge hospital, the Suroît hospital and the Verdun hospital.
Deaths waiting in emergency
In a press scrum at the National Assembly, the Minister of Health, Christian Dubé, confirmed the recent death of two patients who were waiting in the emergency room of Anna-Laberge hospital. He offered his condolences to the relatives of the deceased and revealed that he himself went to the scene last Sunday. “It is completely unacceptable that we are experiencing these situations in Quebec’s emergency rooms,” he declared.
During question period in the National Assembly, Prime Minister François Legault was pressed to react by the official opposition. He first said he wanted to wait for the conclusions of the investigations opened by the coroner and the CISSS de la Montérégie-Ouest before making a decision.
Then, he launched into an explanation according to which the state of emergencies would be linked to delays accumulated during the acute phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Later, Mr. Legault tried to blame previous Quebec Liberal Party governments, although his party has been in power since 2018.
Minister Christian Dubé says he asked his new access coordinator, Michel Delamarre, to go to Anna-Laberge hospital. He also took the liberty of criticizing the organization of care in this Châteauguay hospital, where, according to him, the optimization measures formulated by the crisis unit were not applied.
Present alongside Minister Dubé, the Minister responsible for Seniors, Sonia Bélanger, announced new measures for the Montreal and Montérégie regions. In CHSLDs and intermediate resources, 200 new places have been opened to accommodate patients in “alternative level of care (NSA)”.
These are patients who need some care but are ready to be discharged from the hospital. However, many of these people have nowhere to go if they cannot return home alone. Another batch of 300 places must be the subject of a call for tenders from residences for the elderly in order to receive other NSA patients.
Overheating at 811
In addition to overloaded emergencies, longer delays are expected in 811 telephone services as well as at the first line access desk (GAP). According to the MSSS, services at 811 centers operate with 60% of their nursing staff.
On Tuesday, the average waiting time for the 811 service was 1 hour 15 minutes.
Due to these circumstances, the MSSS requests “the collaboration of Quebecers”. You will therefore have to be patient if you wish to obtain front-line services or in an emergency unit.
On this subject, the ministry emphasizes that approximately 50% of patients who present to the emergency room are considered priority 4 or 5 cases. That is to say, they do not really need emergency care. emergency.
We recommend that these people prioritize other services, including 811, while being patient. It is also possible to consult your family doctor if you are registered in a family medicine group or to obtain an appointment in a clinic using the Rendez-vous santé Québec, Clic Santé or Bonjour Santé platforms.
We also suggest consulting your pharmacist, who can provide certain advice.
Regarding the measures deployed by Quebec to limit the consequences on services, it is said to have set up a “coordination team” to ensure “the smooth running of operations” during strike episodes.
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