The Lachine Hospital, part of Montreal’s McGill University Health Centre, will be drastically reducing the hours of its ER as of Nov. 7.
That is cause for concern, according to the president of the hospital’s council of physicians.
“This is unheard of, closing an emergency room in the city of Montreal where already our emergency rooms are over flooded,” said Dr. Paul Saba.
Under the new hours, the emergency room will remain open seven days a week, but only from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Ambulances will be temporarily redirected.
“This is serious time loss and can mean life or death,” said Saba of rerouting ambulances.
A spokesperson for the MUHC said on Monday evening that while the hospital has been dealing with a labour shortage for several years, the situation has been exacerbated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The hospital is now facing a “critical shortage of nurses and respiratory therapists,” according to MUHC Communications Manager Gilda Salomone.
Salomone said all its services at the CHSLD Camille-Lefebvre long-term care home will be maintained, not only in terms of capacity, but also support for patients who are chronically ventilated.
The hospital will also be maintaining elective surgeries and its capacity for hospitalization in medicine and surgery.
Patient advocate Paul Brunet said he was in disbelief over the state of the health system as a whole.
He, however, claims staff shortages alone aren’t to blame.
“Yes, we’re lacking personnel,” he said. “But this lack of planning or organization that has been going on for a number of years — now we see the result.”
The Lachine Hospital isn’t the only facility experiencing partial closures in the province.
This as the health minister is actively recruiting some 4,000 nurses to fill in vacant positions.
“Our whole public system is crumbling,” said Québec solidaire’s Gabriel Nadeau.
The leader of the official Opposition deplored the closure.
“Instead of reorganizing services and providing services to the population, what they’re doing is closing and shutting down emergency rooms,” said Liberal Dominique Anglade.
While the Lachine Hospital’s contingency plan comes into effect Nov. 7, it is not known how long it will last.
“We wish to assure our staff and patients that this situation is temporary and that we are working intensively in collaboration with the MSSS (Health Ministry) to correct it as soon as possible,” Salomone said. “Patient safety is our priority.”