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NDG health complex says patients are cancelling appointments due to bad snow removal

Montreal snow makes getting around difficult for providers of emergency services
WATCH: Urgences-santé says high snow banks and poorly shovelled neighbourhoods are making its work even more difficult and they're not alone. Global’s Dan Spector has more.

Health institutions are usually at the top of the snow removal list, but to Irene Tschernomor, CEO of Queen Elizabeth Health Complex, it doesn’t feel that way.

“It’s never a priority,” she told Global News. “It’s just as bad as anywhere else.”

The complex has entrances on Marlowe and on Northcliffe. Tschernomor says on both streets the snow has only been cleared on one side, taking away valuable parking spots for patients.

As a result, she says, people are cancelling medical appointments.

“It could be a visit with a specialist you’ve waited for for a few months. People come up, they see there’s nowhere to park and they go home, so we see a huge drop in volume.”

READ MORE: Former clients of West Island snow-removal company seek answers at bankruptcy hearing

Tschernomor says the same thing has been happening for years.

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“We met with Sue Montgomery last year, who assured us she’d be basically fixing the problem by making us a priority as a health centre and we haven’t seen any difference,” she said.

Fresh snowfall slows Montreal’s snow-removal progress
Fresh snowfall slows Montreal’s snow-removal progress

In a statement, Côte-Des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-De-Grâce Mayor Sue Montgomery told Global News her borough is actually clearing snow faster than the city average.

On residential streets, crews generally clear one side at a time. This makes crews more efficient and allows emergency vehicles to pass,” Montgomery said. 

Meanwhile, Urgences-Santé is having a tough time with all the snow on the ground.

“The main problem is access,” said spokesperson Stéphane Gascon.

READ MORE: ‘It’s a huge challenge’: Montreal warns snow removal will take until early next week

Ambulances need to drive slower on streets narrowed by snow, but the real problem for paramedics is walkways.

“Most of the time, they can access the patient without shovelling,” Gascon explained.

“However, once they have to bring the patient to the ambulance, they have to shovel so that they can bring the stretcher or the stair chair, and move the patient back to the ambulance.”

Urgences-Santé is asking people to clear the way before they arrive.

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“If there are some family members or friends around, you can ask them to start shovelling the area,” Gascon said, adding that patients in distress should not be peforming the task themselves.

Quebec winter storm buries Montreal streets with over 40 centimetres of snow
Quebec winter storm buries Montreal streets with over 40 centimetres of snow