Quebec ERs Operating Over 100 Percent Capacity, Expected to Get Worse

Team Parvasi – Inside

Quebec’s emergency rooms are still overcrowded and dealing with staffing shortages, but the worse is yet to come. In January and February, the number of patients typically increases following the holiday season, and healthcare workers are bracing for the situation to get worse before it improves.

Emergency Rooms (ERs) in Quebec have been operating at more than 100 percent capacity but health officials suspected the situation to become worse in the coming months. Dr. Judy Morris, head of the Quebec Association of Emergency Physicians, said that healthcare officials need to prepare for the worst as January and February typically bring in more patients for broken bones, respiratory viruses, and heart attacks induced by shoveling.

“We’ve already been overcrowded, we’ve already been stretched thin … the whole system lacks room for patients,” she added. She also fears that this expected surge could break the healthcare system.

As per ER nurse Nathan Friedland, Montreal’s Lakeshore General Hospital emergency room was operating at 210 percent capacity. Patients were showing up sicker than usual as a result of the backlogs throughout the pandemic. “You have two years where people didn’t go to a doctor, two years where their health problems got worse, two years when they weren’t treated for cancer. It’s going to get a hell of a lot worse before it gets better,” he said.

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Furthermore, people in the waiting room and those who are sent back to the waiting room due to a lack of stretchers are not included in the count. This means the number of people visiting the hospital could be even higher than estimated.

In Montreal, some of the most overcrowded hospitals include Santa Cabrini, Montreal General, Lakeshore General, Royal Victoria, and Jewish General. They were operating at 133 percent capacity while hospitals in Quebec were at 136 percent.

Dr. Cristian Toarta, the associate emergency department chief at McGill University Health Centre, says more hospital beds would be the solution to this problem. Without beds, nurses in the emergency ward are having to look after patients on stretchers. Morris added that hospitals and the healthcare system need to come together and work on a plan to improve the situation.

Vineet Washington


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