As the holidays approach, Montreal pediatric hospitals are asking parents to avoid their emergency room if their child’s condition does not require immediate care. In recent weeks, 58% of patients who presented to the emergency department of the Montreal Children’s Hospital (MCH) had a minor health problem. This percentage was 37% at the Sainte-Justine University Hospital Center (CHU).
Faced with an increase in respiratory infections and anticipating an increase in cases of influenza, the doctors responsible for the two pediatric emergencies launched an appeal to the population during a press briefing held Wednesday in Montreal. They reiterated that a visit to the emergency room is not necessary when a child has mild flu symptoms, gastroenteritis and fever, which usually last between three and five days.
“Priority is given to very sick children,” says the medical director of the MCH emergency room, Dr.D Laurie Plotnick. This means that the other children will wait a very long time. »
Many parents come to the emergency room with their child because of a fever, said the medical head of the emergency room at CHU Sainte-Justine, Dr.r Antonio D’Angelo. “There is a lot of fear about fever,” he notes. Fever is however “not in itself dangerous”, he emphasizes, specifying that hydration is important. “A child can confront fever, and even must confront fever to develop his immune system,” he explains.
A medical consultation is required when the fever “lasts too long” and causes “lethargy” in the child, said the Dr D’Angelo. Parents can contact their child’s family doctor, the 811 line or walk-in clinics when the fever lasts more than three days.
The Dr D’Angelo said he hopes medical clinics will open their doors during the holiday season to reduce pressure on emergency rooms. The pressure on emergencies is always high during this time of year, when the respiratory virus season is in full swing.
High occupancy rate
The stretcher occupancy rate at HME stood at 150% around noon Wednesday, according to IndexSanté. It was 63% at CHU Sainte-Justine. “In the last few days, there has been a little lull,” says Dr D’Angelo. For several weeks, we have experienced very high occupancy rates, with higher volumes. »
From November 17 to 1er December, the average stretcher occupancy rate was 157.5% at HME and 172.13% at CHU Sainte-Justine. Children had to be hospitalized for bronchiolitis or pneumonia. Pediatric emergencies are also overflowing due to the limited number of hospital beds on the floors. “Since COVID, there has been a clear drop in nursing resources, attendants, respiratory therapists,” indicates the Dr D’Angelo.
“It’s in the hands of decision-makers to find solutions too,” he concludes. We encourage them to find something quickly if possible. »