Chaos at airports: a canceled flight deprives them of care

Chaos at airports: canceled flight robs them of care< /p> UPDATE DAY

Fifty-seven patients from the Magdalen Islands suffering from chronic pain will have to take their pain patiently for two months, due to the cancellation of an Air Canada flight carrying a medical specialist.

The crisis that has shaken the country's airports is not only causing ruined holidays. Talk to Dr. David Landry, who has been traveling to the Islands periodically for five years to provide medical imaging services and cortisone and anesthetic infiltrations.

David Landry, doctor-radiologist

As he does about every two months, the doctor-radiologist went to Montreal-Trudeau airport last Sunday, July 3, to catch a flight to archipelago. But at the last moment, bad surprise: Air Canada cancels its flight, citing “factors related to the pandemic beyond our control”.

The doctor, who works at Notre-Dame Hospital in Montreal, was finally able to take another flight on Tuesday, but the 48 hours lost could not be made up.

“That means that Monday and Tuesday morning all appointments had to be cancelled. In all and everywhere, it was 58 appointments canceled. So that's 58 patients who will live with their pain for another two months,” he laments.

Of these 58 appointments, only one could be resumed later in the week , since the rest of the doctor's schedule in the Islands was already busy with other patients.

Not a first

The doctor laments that this is far from the first time that air travel has caused headaches for him and his colleagues. He cites three other unforeseen events experienced in recent months, those with Pascan: an interrupted flight, a reservation problem and confused instructions at the airport.

“All the specialist colleagues who come here, we have similar stories. You really have to be strong to come here,” he says.

“What is very worrying to me is that all these problems mean that there are patients who do not have their care. »

The doctor wants the government to get involved in the matter, to bring more reliability to the air service. He suggests evaluating the possibility of assigning a weekly flight to personnel providing essential services.

Uncertain future

Because if nothing changes, the stress associated with travel and the lack of efficiency, for him and for the patients, could get the better of his involvement.

“I have already promised that I will continue for the next year, but for sure if it doesn't improve or if it gets worse, for 2024, I really can't make any more promises,” he said regretfully.

Asked to respond, Air Canada blames “lack of resources experienced by third-party service providers [which] impacted airport and aviation industry operations” for Sunday's flight cancellation .

The carrier always assures that it will make every effort to find an alternative solution for its customers, saying it “fully understands the disappointment and inconvenience” they are experiencing.  

The CISSS fears resignations 

The CISSS des Îles-de-la-Madeleine fears that medical specialists will abandon the region if the reliability of the air transport does not stabilize.

Due to its isolation, the archipelago relies on a hundred doctors from outside who come to provide specialized care from time to time.

“There are doctors who demonstrate the fact that in at some point they might quit, so that's definitely a concern for me,” says CEO Sophie Doucet.

She says she has frequent contact with Pascan, which, unlike Air Canada, provides year-round air travel. The CISSS also has a contract with it for the transport of users.

According to the figures presented to it, the reliability index is on the rise.

“However, there are possible solutions that have been explored by Pascan and are being applied, so I dare to believe that the situation has improved in recent weeks. »

Despite everything, she is following the case closely. “There is enormous fragility and the whole aviation world is affected. »

The Pascan company did not respond to our request for comment.

Not surprised

According to Ms. Doucet, the pandemic, the lack of work, changes to federal regulations, mechanical breakdowns and difficult weather conditions last winter are factors that have contributed to the situation.

The deputy of the Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Joël Arseneau, does not say he is surprised by the misadventure experienced by Dr. David Landry. “It is symptomatic of a situation that has persisted since at least the start of the pandemic. »

Last May, Le Journal reported the testimony of another specialist, an ophthalmologist, who was considering stopping her practice in the region, due to irritants when traveling .

According to Mr. Arseneau, the Legault government has missed its target with its $500 plane ticket program in the regions.

“Airlines are understaffed, there is a lack of pilots, there are planes that are not always very reliable, there is the weather, so we are increasing the layers of problems, and we have superimposed one by saying: we will increase traffic on flights which were already difficult,” he says.

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