Respiratory viruses are not giving hospital staff a break, while emergency departments at hospitals in the Quebec region are experiencing heavy traffic on this return from the holidays.
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The current situation is not unusual for this time of year. But the trio of viruses that have been circulating for some time are suffocating medical staff long before the holidays.
“Our emergencies have been in a situation of overcapacity for several weeks, notably due to a significant presence of consultations related to respiratory viruses,” notes Michèle Schaffner-Junius, spokeswoman for the CHU de Québec.
The staff shortage is an additional challenge during this “more difficult time,” she adds.
Also in Chaudière-Appalaches
Equally painful is the situation in Chaudière-Appalaches, while traffic in emergency and several other departments – such as the intensive care unit – has been very high for several weeks.
Again, the situation is being blamed on the highly resilient trio of COVID-19, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus.
The population is also aging […], which means that their health care needs are constantly increasing. Together with the labor shortage, this creates the current context,” emphasizes Maryse Rodrigue, spokeswoman for the CISSS de Chaudière-Appalaches.
Patients with no options
The head of the intensive care unit at the Institut universitaire de cardiologie et de pneumologie de Québec (IUCPQ), Dr. Mathieu Simon, believes that the current situation is indeed in line with the trends of other years.
While holiday gatherings obviously contribute to this high traffic, Dr. Simon that the labor shortage is not a good goal.
“Emergency rooms are fine in their resources. The problem is that they are too busy because there are no other points of entry into the system and when you enter the ER you stay there for a long time because we cannot free beds,” explains Dr. Simon. who remembers that emergencies work well provided they are used wisely.
“We cannot resolve the situation until there is another point of contact for people who are sick but do not need all the emergency resources,” he said.
He adds that many patients are caught unprepared during the holidays, when many medical clinics are either closed or operating on restricted basis.
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