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Quebec’s urgent care chiefs say ERs are ‘victims of a failed system’ in open letterSEDI News

The province has systematically failed to support its overcrowded emergency rooms, leading to tense and potentially deadly emergencies, a leaked letter to hospital leaders and health officials suggests.

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This letter Dr. Written by Marie-Maud Couture, president of Regroupment des chefs d’urgens du Quebec (RCUQ), representing the province’s emergency chiefs.

The letter was not for the public eye. Radio-Canada obtained the leaked copy Tuesday morning.

He says the RCUQ wrote earlier this summer to “make the management teams aware of the serious issues,” but found that the ERs “did not have the support of our management.”

The lack of hospital beds in other departments forces ERs to “bear a disproportionately high hospital capacity burden,” which affects urgent care, the letter said.

“Emergencies are now condemned for sacrificing their primary mission, which is to provide timely treatment, for people whose clinical condition is unstable, or even potentially fatal.”

“Our crises are victims of a failed system, and it is our patients, our staff and the population that suffer from the disorganization of our institutions.”

The health board has a responsibility to regain control of the situation, the letter says, especially as health care providers prepare for another wave of Covid-19, along with the flu, this winter.

Health Minister called a press conference

Shortly after the letter was released on Tuesday, Health Minister Christian Dubey announced he would hold a news conference at 1 p.m. to discuss the province’s emergency rooms.

Couture, the letter’s author, declined an interview request Tuesday morning.

Quebec Association of Emergency Physicians head Dr. Judy Morris echoed the concerns raised in the letter on Tuesday morning, saying the letter was an “appropriate response” to the government’s handling of the situation.

“People were hoping, regionally and in health-care institutions, that people would take appropriate action to address the crisis. But very little has been done,” she said.

She said the solution to emergency room overcrowding is to make beds available in other departments, so patients can be transferred appropriately.

“But it seems that in a health-care network, everyone can close their doors and say: ‘No, we’re full’ or ‘No, we’re at maximum capacity,'” she said.

“In the emergency room, we can’t close the door, and rightfully so. But that leads to the numbers we’re seeing.”

Dr. Antonio D’Angelo, emergency chief at Montreal’s Saint-Justine Children’s Hospital, said the situation is dire — and doesn’t seem to be getting any better.

D’Angelo said at his hospital he sees about 250 to 300 children a day. Many of them need to be hospitalized, but he said they also struggle to find beds for them, saying some wards are “completely full.”

“We have a nursing shortage everywhere — and we’re very concerned about the safety of patients in our emergency rooms,” he said.