Respiratory illnesses and the flu hammering Montreal emergency rooms

Click to play video: 'Montreal ERs at capacity' Montreal ERs at capacity
WATCH: The public health authority is urging the public to avoid emergency rooms in Montreal as resources are stretched to the limit. Global’s Brayden Jagger Haines brings us the story – May 5, 2022

The Montreal regional health authority is urging the public to consider weighing their options before heading to the emergency room.

Montreal hospitals are over capacity and struggling to keep up with the influx of patients according to a statement issued Wednesday by health officials at the CIUSSS de l’Est-de-l’Île-de-Montréal..

Of the 21 medical facilities on the island of Montreal 12 are operating above their recommended capacity limits. 

As of Thursday afternoon, Maisonneuve-Rosemont hospital was recording the highest total at 183 per cent capacity, followed by the Royal Victoria hospital at 176 per cent.

The Lakeshore, the McGill University Health Centre and St. Mary’s hospital are all above 130 per cent.

Read more: Quebec to end mask mandate May 14, citing ‘better and better’ COVID-19 trend

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An increase in respiratory illnesses are the main reason for the influx of patients according to Christian Merciari, spokesperson for the CIUSSS de l’Est-de-l’Île-de-Montréal.

Merciari said the illnesses are stemming from a rise in transmission of the seasonal influenza virus paired with the ongoing spread of COVID-19.

In-hospital spread is also becoming a problem officials said.

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“A lot of patients come in for something else and they get COVID-19 or the flu while in the hospital care,” Dr. Françis Marquis, chief of the critical unit at the Maisonneuve-Rosemont hospital said.

READ MORE: Montreal hospitals struggling to keep up with rising number of patients

“Those patients require isolation because we don’t want it to spread. So on top of the sheer number of patients,  you have the complexity of not mixing them. It becomes a real nightmare.”

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Marquis says patients will be triaged according to the severity of their injuries.

“A heart attack or a stroke will be dealt with right away but for a broken leg or arm you should expect a longer than usual wait time,” Marquis said.

READ MORE: Hospitals grapple with ‘historical’ staff absences, burnout amid 6th COVID wave

The Montreal public health authority is asking people to avoid the emergency room and seek medical attention elsewhere if possible. They suggest contacting a family physician or scheduling an appointment with a local clinic.

They are also reminding the public, that a certified nurse is always available to assess patients over the phone by calling 811.

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