‘It’s inhumane’: Lakeshore General Hospital appeals to health minister for help

Click to play video: 'Nurses at Lakeshore General Hospital warn ER is at breaking point'
Nurses at Lakeshore General Hospital warn ER is at breaking point
WATCH: Another hospital emergency room crisis may be brewing at the Lakeshore General Hospital, on Montreal's West Island. Nurses there are appealing to the health minister for better working conditions. They had a sit-in a few weeks ago and staff say more protests may be possible. Global's Felicia Parrillo explains – Jan 18, 2023

Employees at the Lakeshore General Hospital in the West Island are crying out for help.

Staff who work in the emergency department at the Pointe-Claire facility say the situation has become unmanageable and should not be tolerated.

“Our capacity is 31; we’re always at at least 50 patients, so we’re at 160, 170 per cent and we’re also four or five nurses short,” said Nathan Friedland, an emergency room nurse at the hospital. “This is a tremendous strain on everybody.”

In a letter sent to Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé on Monday, the hospital’s nursing union called the situation at the Lakeshore critical.

They say staff shortages and working conditions are so bad that “the safety of patients is always at risk and health care professionals feel they are putting their license on the line every day.”

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They go on to cite three situations they call dangerous that occurred late last year — including one that led to nurses staging a sit-in on Dec. 26.

“As much as they all love their jobs and love what they do in critical care, there’s only so much a human can take,” said Kristina Hoare, the vice-president of the local union representing employees at the Lakeshore. “It’s gotten to a point where it’s inhumane what’s happening at the Lakeshore and across the province.”

In a statement to Global News, the West Island regional health authority says “it is taking the situation seriously and is working to minimize the impact on staff and patients.”

It added that it is implementing measures to help mitigate the situation, such as recruiting more nurses, having managers fill in on shifts and moving personnel from other units to the ER.

Quebec Premier François Legault weighed in on Wednesday, saying he understands the situation isn’t easy.

“Not only in Quebec, but also in Ontario and everywhere in the world, it’s tough,” said Legault. “We don’t have enough nurses. It’s not because the money isn’t available but because it takes time to train these nurses.”

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Nurses at the Lakeshore say they haven’t ruled out taking similar measures to what  nurses did at the Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital, where a sit-in partially shut down an emergency room earlier this week.

“You’ve got 100 nurses in an emergency room who went on strike — this is unprecedented,” said Friedland. “It’s not gonna stop here with this. It it will not stop with this.”

In an email to Global News, a spokesperson for Dubé said he is monitoring the situation very closely.

“We are very concerned and the ministry is in contact with managers to ensure the safety and health of all patients.”

He went onto say that the ministry is determined to find solutions to attract more staff.

“We want our health care network to become an employer of choice and we want to decentralize decisions on the ground, especially when it comes to schedules. Working conditions have already improved and new negotiations have begun.”

The health minister’s office said it won’t comment further on the matter since negotiations are underway.

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