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Lachine Hospital doctors say bad management to blame for partial ER closure

Click to play video: 'Lachine Hospital doctors say bad management to blame for partial ER closure' Lachine Hospital doctors say bad management to blame for partial ER closure
WATCH: A movement is growing against the partial closure of the Lachine hospital's emergency room scheduled for Nov. 7. Dozens gathered outside the hospital on Saturday to express frustration on the dire state of the institution they care deeply about. Dan Spector reports – Oct 30, 2021

A movement is growing against the partial closure of the Lachine hospital’s emergency room scheduled for Nov. 7.

Dozens gathered outside the hospital on a rainy Saturday morning to express frustration and anger about the dire state of the institution they care deeply about.

“We love our team. We love our hospital,” said Lachine ER doctor Dr. Liliana Diaz. “It makes our lives fulfilled to help these people.

The McGill University Health Centre, which manages the Lachine Hospital, says its emergency room will be closed during overnight hours as of Nov. 7. There is no precise timeline for a reopening.

Doctors working there say patients will suffer.

READ MORE: Lachine Hospital to drastically cut ER hours, officials blame ‘critical’ staff shortages

“If they tap on a door after eight or seven o’clock or whatever it is, and their situation isn’t deemed critical enough. Well, they’re going to go home,” said Lachine ER doctor Dr. Andrew Khalil. He said many patients coming to the hospital live in disadvantaged parts of Lachine and arrive to the hospital on foot.

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The closure is due to a severe shortage of nurses and respiratory therapists. Doctors say nurses have been taking on extra work to make up for the shortage, but that the situation has gotten bad.

“We really have a lack of respiratory therapists,” explained Dr. Danielle de Jong. “Our nurses managed to to fill in the holes, but it’s true that we can’t operate safely without our respiratory therapists.”

The doctors have harsh words for hospital administrators.

“It’s poor usage of staff,” said Dr. Ashwin Sairam.

READ MORE: Lachine Hospital cutting overnight ER services

The allure of working in more modern hospitals downtown has already hurt staffing at Lachine over the years, but doctors say poor management has also been driving people away.

Staff who want to work in the ER are being sent to work in Lachine’s long-term care wing.

“We’re forcing people to work somewhere where they don’t want to. We know that doesn’t work,” said De Jong.

“By the time the problem is actually apparent to central management, it’s far too late,” said Khalil.

Click to play video: 'Lachine Hospital to close down ER amid staff shortages' Lachine Hospital to close down ER amid staff shortages
Lachine Hospital to close down ER amid staff shortages – Oct 26, 2021

The Saturday demonstration was organized by Lachine Mayor Maja Vodanovic and was also attended by Lachine MNA Enrico Ciccone.

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“We are here to connect, to find out about each other, to learn and then to create a working group so that we can keep it open,” said Vodanovic.

Nurses working at Lachine Hospital did not want to go on camera out of fear of losing their jobs, but one told Global News she likes it there and wants to keep working there.

Like many, however, she feels cutting ER services will only make it harder to retain staff.

Click to play video: 'Lachine Hospital cuts ER hours' Lachine Hospital cuts ER hours
Lachine Hospital cuts ER hours – Oct 26, 2021

“They are going to feel forced to leave somewhere else when we close. There’s not going to be enough shifts for them,” said Diaz. Multiple doctors feel the closure will only make things worse for the hospital long term.

The MUHC says it hopes to reopen the emergency department within weeks, but the doctors aren’t convinced.

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“We don’t feel like we’re moving forward to a solution where it’s going to help us work in a safe environment with enough respiratory therapists and being able to serve the community of Lachine,” said De Jong.

“The nurses that we lost, can we get them back? The respiratory therapists that we lost, can we get them back? Is there a way for them to come back? We really don’t think so,” said Diaz.

Though everyone at the demonstration is committed to finding a solution, some worry this could be the beginning of the end not just for the ER,  but the entire Lachine Hospital.

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