Emergency rooms across Quebec are overcapacity

"There's increased chances for medical error and for harm to occur to patients," says Naveed Hussain, a nurse at the MUHC, of the overcrowding in emergency rooms across Quebec. Anastasia Dextrene reports.

Emergency rooms at hospitals across the province are overcapacity and in crisis mode. The average for a Quebec ER was 134 per cent as of 3 p.m. on Thursday.

In the morning, the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal was seeing 230 per cent occupancy rate for it’s emergency – but had fallen to 218 per cent by afternoon. The Jewish General Hospital at 228 per cent and the CHUM at 175 per cent.

“We have five centers on the island of Montreal right now that are almost over 200% in capacity,” said nurse, Naveed Hussain. “If this continues to drag on, patient care is going to be affected. What’s going to happen is the emergency room is going to get packed with patients, and there’s increased chances for medical error and for harm to occur to patients.”

This, despite a crisis cell to fix ER overcrowding in Quebec that was launched a year ago by Health Minister Christian Dubé.

“Patients tell me that they are almost hesitant to go to the emergency room sometimes because they know that the wait times are going to be long,” said cardiologist, Dr. Christopher Labos.

Health professionals saying with long wait times and staff shortages from nurses to other medical staff, everyone is suffering.

“If you spoke to most physicians, they would tell you an inordinate amount of their day is taken up with paperwork and other administrative issues,” said Dr. Labos. “So if you could remove that, that would definitely help a little bit and this is why the issue is so complicated. There’s no one single fix. There’s just a number of different problems that need to be addressed.”

They add that with an aging population in Quebec, doctors say the healthcare system also needs more investment in chronic care.

“We have increased morbidity, increased patients who are living longer, we have illnesses that we need to treat, they’re coming to the hospital,” said Hussain. “And as the years go on, this is going to increase more and more and we don’t have the personnel to deal with it right now.”

“We need to see more encouragement with regards to hiring, recruiting people to get into health,” added Hussain.

“We need more long term care beds so we can get people out of hospital who don’t need to be there,” said Labos. “We need more staffing in hospital so we can take care of the patients that are there and we need more services in the community to try to get people from acute beds into chronic beds, which is a big reason why there’s such congestion in the hospitalized settings.”

CityNews reached out to the Health Minister’s office and has yet to hear back.

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