Overwhelmed emergencies: Quebec sets up a crisis unit

Overwhelmed emergencies: Quebec sets up a crisis unit


To deal with the exploding emergency room occupancy rate, particularly in Montreal, the government has set up a crisis unit responsible for making “very specific recommendations” to resolve the situation.  

“It's not complicated: we are going to set up a crisis cell with 3-4 CEOs in Montreal”, announced the Minister of Health, Christian Dubé, to explain how the government intends to resolve the crisis in emergencies.   

This crisis cell will be formed by CEOs of CISSSs and CIUSSSs in the metropolitan area and Montérégie, as well as other “field experts”, who will have the mandate to find solutions to allow the government to “take the big means” to absorb the excesses in the most critical emergencies, said his press secretary by text message a few minutes later.

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“We want it's very dynamic. All solutions are on the table,” he added.  

Moreover, such a crisis unit would be “a first”, according to the new Minister for Health, Sonia Bélanger. 

For several weeks, waiting rooms have been overflowing in Montreal hospitals, in particular because of the respiratory viruses which affect children, explained Christian Dubé. The National Director of Public Health, Luc Boileau, must also provide an update on these viruses next week.  

In the meantime, the Minister of Health assures that the government is already working on two fronts, namely the “volume” of patients visiting the emergency room and the “capacity” of the hospital network, to resolve the crisis. 

< p> In particular, Mr. Dubé welcomed the results of the “first line access window” (GAP), which would currently make it possible to redirect 75,000 patients per month outside the emergency room. By way of comparison, there are approximately 300,000 visits per month to emergency rooms in Quebec, according to the Minister.    

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Regarding the capacity of hospital settings, Christian Dubé agreed that the lack of personnel is an important issue. “We can succeed in lowering the volumes, but in terms of capacity, we have a stake if there are no nurses to meet the demand”. 

According to the minister, “several measures are underway” to try to solve this problem. Asked about the possibility of moving staff to hospitals where the situation is more delicate, Mr. Dubé said he does not rule out any scenario.