Nurses at the Lakeshore Hospital in Pointe-Claire are protesting an increase in workload, which they say has advanced to the point it’s unsafe.
On Sunday, nurses staged a one-hour sit in at the Lakeshore’s emergency room due to nurse-patient ratios.
The nurses union says that as of 8 p.m. Feb. 14, the hospital scheduled only eight nurses in the E.R. for about 36 patients.
“We calculated that probably nine patients didn’t even have a nurse,” said Elizabeth Rich, the vice-president of workplace health and security at Quebec’s largest nurses union (FIQ).
“It was not safe at that point. That’s why they decided to do the sit-in.”
According to the union, the ratio should be 13 nurses for 31 patients.
Nurses at the Lakeshore have been sounding the alarm over increased workload for months.
Rich says that back in the summer, nurses were pushed to stage seven sit-ins in a row.
Vacation was also cancelled during the holiday period last year.
Rich says nurses are now reaching a breaking point.
“I see my colleagues — they’re tired, they want a way out,” Rich said. “I know that nurses leave either on sick leave or CNESST because they’re at the end of their rope.
“It’s costing the government a lot of money, all this because the conditions are really bad.”
The president for the Conseil pour la protection des malades (CPM), Paul Brunet, says staff shortage issues at the hospital are not new.
Brunet wonders why the hospital hasn’t tackled the issue.
“Why can’t they recruit as many nurses as they can or would or should have?” Brunet said. “All sorts of accords can be signed.”
Brunet also wondered what happened to promises made by the province to reduce patient-nurse ratios.
“What happened to the protocol and the accord that they signed, was this a joke or are they really working on such a ratio?” Brunet said.
In an email to Global News, the regional health board responsible for the Lakeshore hospital said that the staff shortage was due to a scheduling error and they are working on understanding how the mistake was made in order to prevent it from happening again.
“We want to specify that at all times, the safety of patients was ensured,” wrote Hélène Bergeron-Gamache, a spokesperson for the CIUSSS de l’Ouest-de-l’Île-de-Montréal.
Quebec’s Public Health Ministry did not return our request for comment as of print time.
This article will be updated as further information becomes available.