Quebec sets up crisis management team as Montreal hospital ERs face overcrowding |

The Quebec government is creating crisis management team to manage extreme overcrowding in hospital emergency rooms in Montreal.

Health Minister Christian Dubé made the announcement Wednesday at the provincial legislature, saying the current situation is “unacceptable.” The team will include the CEOs of local health authorities across the city.

“I won’t tell you the additional measures we’re going to take because that will be up to the crisis management team to suggest those to us,” Dubé told reporters. “But this unit that we have set up there will come and make very specific recommendations for Montreal.”

The move comes as most local emergency departments have been stretched thin in recent weeks. The province’s Indexsanté website indicated that 17 of 21 hospital ERs in the city were operating above 100 per cent as of Wednesday morning.

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Pediatric ERs have been particularly hard hit, with the Montreal Children’s Hospital operating at 183 per cent. Sainte-Justine hospital, meanwhile, wasn’t far behind at 175 per cent.

On Tuesday, the head of the pediatric emergency department at Sainte-Justine hospital said his emergency rooms were “completely jammed with patients” with respiratory viruses, largely driven by respiratory syncytial virus. Weekly provincial surveillance data show positivity rates of the childhood illness hover just over 13 per cent provincewide, with slightly higher rates in the two cities and wide variation among smaller communities.

Dr. Christopher Labos, a cardiologist and epidemiologist, spoke about the strain of the virus on local hospitals in an interview on Global News Morning.

“If you have the emergency rooms in the hospitals overwhelmed with an infectious virus, well, then you don’t have room to take care of all the other stuff,” he said. “And so we’re seeing this now with both the adult hospitals and the pediatric hospitals.

“And as we get into flu season, if that gets worse, we start seeing more and more COVID cases. We’re going to have more and more people in the emergency rooms in the hospital with these respiratory viruses.

with files from Global News’ Julie Turcotte, Karen Macdonald and The Canadian Press

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