Public system health worker shortages in Quebec impacting external companies and care services

“Much more support,” explains Melanie Jade-Boulerice, the CEO of Nomadic Nurse Agency, about what Quebec’s healthcare system requires. If not, she says many will be alienated and unable to receive care. Felisha Adam reports.

Thousands of Quebec healthcare workers were absent from the system due to COVID-19, summer vacation time, and many are burnt out and have left the field altogether.

Some hospital ERs in the province have had to temporarily suspend their services.

It poses a real problem for those dependent on the health system, but as it continues – it’s also impacting external companies – who work alongside hospitals to provide healthcare services to those that need them. Like essential blood tests.

“The truth of the matter is the problem that we’re having is that we are limiting health care resources at its finest, and it’s becoming extremely dangerous,” explained Melanie Jade-Boulerice, CEO of Nomadic Nurse Agency.

“Our government needs to provide much more support with their health care system on now it’s no longer just nursing or just a P.A.B (préposé aux bénéficiaires) it’s this is now all over the hospital. Everybody is burnt out. And now it’s trickling all the way up to the laboratories, management. This is a non-stop shop of just deficits of staff.”

Nomadic Nurse Agency is a company that provides a multitude of nursing services for clients at home and at pharmacies. Jade-Boulerice partners with government laboratories for blood test services – something she says has been halted – due to the lack of staff.

“Companies like mine help alleviate the system and support the system, not compete against the system,” said Jade-Boulerice.

“When you cut off that resource of the laboratory, you are cutting off that resource of the external services to help alleviate that pressure on the central laboratories.”

With laboratories not accepting external samples – Melanie has had to cancel all future blood test appointments – totalling 8,000 to 10,000 blood tests monthly – resulting in losing 80 per cent of business, but she says the ramifications of this will create a larger barrier in getting healthcare – forcing those in need of services to wait far longer for appointments or pay extra at private clinics.

“They’re not going to have three, four or $500 to dish out at one point. So this is where we’re going to see a big problem. Well, we’re not only going to see a financial crisis, we’re going to see a very big spike in health care crisis if we haven’t seen one already.”

For Jade-Boulerice, if external healthcare services are not able to alleviate the stressors on central services – it will lead to a larger problem – one that depends on the Quebec government providing more support to the healthcare system.

“We shouldn’t have to wait three, four months to get a blood test appointment to be available or have to go to, like Timbuktu to get a blood test appointment. We need to be aware that we have more regions like the region of Montreal that is highly populated. And we need to make sure that we attend to that population accordingly or else it just becomes unfair and it decreases the accessibility of health care. And as Quebec citizens, we deserve accessibility to health care.”

CityNews reached out to the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MSSS) which stated, “Health network laboratories can agree to receive and analyze samples from private samplers, but they are not obliged to do so. The shortage of labor in laboratories is such that it is possible that some establishments will no longer be able to accept these samples.

Anyone can make an appointment to have biological samples taken. An appointment can be made via Clic Santé.

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