As patients continue to arrive at the emergency department of the Lakeshore General Hospital in the Montreal suburb of Pointe Claire on Friday, staff wonder how colleagues are going to cope this summer.
“Everybody goes on vacation,” explained Kristina Hoare, vice-president of the Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec (FIQ) which represents nurses.
“They deserve their vacation. It’s long awaited so we’re going to be missing staff. We’re going to be short-staffed.”
This is in spite of promises by West Island health authorities to quickly address some of the problems contained in a report that was released Thursday, following an investigation into operations at the emergency department.
The FIQ says it’s still studying the report but agrees with the conclusions so far.
“It’s a step in the right direction,” Hoare told Global News. “It’s what we’ve been talking about and denouncing to the employer for the past five years.”
Among the findings of independent investigator, Francine Dupuis, was that the “abominable” state of the premises could lead to adverse events, including more deaths, because patients cannot be monitored from doctor and nursing stations.
Other findings include a toxic work environment, as well as deficiencies in communication between front-line managers and employees.
One plan announced by the West Island health board Thursday, intended to fix problems, is to install a more modern 31-bed temporary modular emergency room in November next to the current unit until a new emergency room is eventually built.
The problem, according to the FIQ, is that putting that in place in the fall does not address immediate staffing problems, an issue employees have already begun to protest against, according to Hoare.
“Sit-ins have started up again at the lakeshore so it’s going to be quite a rough summer if things aren’t put into place ASAP,” she pointed out.
The last sit-in was five days ago.
According to Hoare, the union is also wondering how many of the report’s recommendations will be followed, but health minister Christian Dubé said Friday he intends to follow all 135 of them, and that approval for a new emergency room is coming.
“We’re finalizing the contract to make sure it will happen,” he told Global News at the Quebec National Assembly. “It’s very urgent.”
The union says it will be in touch with hospital authorities about the report.
Meanwhile, staff brace themselves for another tough summer, with too many patients and too few resources.