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Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital must hire more nurses to reduce pressure at ER: mediator

Quebec will continue redirecting ambulances from Maisonneuve-Rosemont to other hospitals for a month, according to Radio-Canada.  (Charles Contant/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Quebec will continue redirecting ambulances from Maisonneuve-Rosemont to other hospitals for a month, according to Radio-Canada. (Charles Contant/Radio-Canada - image credit)

Throughout the crisis that nearly led to the closure of the Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital emergency room in January, Health Minister Christian Dubé often questioned how one of Quebec's most important emergency services were being managed.

"Why are there about 30 hospitals that have succeeded in implementing local schedule management, while the use of mandatory overtime remains high in the Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital (MRH) emergency room?" he asked.

According to a report consulted by Radio-Canada, the mediator appointed by the Quebec government to address nurses' demands is recommending that the province reduce pressure at MRH, increase the number of nurses available at its emergency room and reconsider a pilot project aimed at attracting an retaining health-care professionals in CIUSSS de l'Est-de-l'Île-de-Montréal emergency rooms.

"Without these actions, the other potential solutions will not make it possible to avoid other crises, since the demand for care and services is clearly greater than the capacity of the nurses currently working in the emergency rooms in the east of the island," writes mediator Lise Lavallée.

She said the eastern health board is navigating a difficult context with 27 per cent of the Montreal population to serve and 16 per cent of hospital beds.

"The challenge is considerable, since it involves finding a way to serve the CIUSSS de l'Est-de-l'Île-de-Montréal population while taking into account the health and safety of the nursing staff at the emergency and their need to reconcile their personal life and work," Lavallée said.

Denis Cloutier, president of the union representing nurses in eastern Montreal, sees the recommendations as a step in the right direction.

"I try to stay positive," he said. "We have had a few nurses from agencies in recent weeks, a few nurses from other facilities, it is very appreciated."

Although he says the use of mandatory overtime has decreased, the hospital urgently needs to recruit 20 nurses for evenings and another 20 for night shifts.

Radio-Canada
Radio-Canada

Radio-Canada recently reported that the east end health board was looking to hire 565 nurses internationally.

The Health Ministry said it is satisfied to see there is significant awareness of the situation at MRH and that everyone wants to work together to solve the problem.

"For our part, we will make sure, with the minister, to continue all efforts to relieve pressure on the MRH emergency department, particularly by redirecting ambulances," a statement from Health Minister Christian Dubé's office read. "We will continue working to modernize MRH and offer more services nearby, in particular through a mini-hospital."

Radio-Canada has learned that Quebec will continue redirecting ambulances to other hospitals for a month, which has allowed the occupancy rate of the hospital's emergency room stretchers to go down in recent weeks.

Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital is one of the oldest in Quebec.

The CIUSSS is taking note of the mediator's report.

"We would like to point out that various clinical and reconciliation measures proposed in the report are already being applied in our establishment," wrote Christian Merciari, assistant to the president and CEO of the CIUSSS de l'Est-de-l'Île-de-Montréal.

The union and management have agreed to consult a third party to assess and improve the work environment in the emergency room.