Crowding persists in several hospitals

Crowding persists in several hospitals

Several large hospitals are unable to comply with Minister Barrette’s ultimatum to eliminate crowded emergency rooms, says the Association of Emergency Physicians of Quebec (AMUQ).

“It was a magical thought. As expected, we saw no change. The occupancy rates are the same everywhere, some still going up to 200%. All big hospitals are in the ‘red’ and small ones in the ‘green’. Where there is most activity, we are completely overwhelmed,” observes the president of the AMUQ, Dr. Bernard Mathieu.

And, he says, there is no epidemic of influenza or gastroenteritis. “These are normal activity rates to be expected for a population that is ageing and that needs to be hospitalized. In Ontario, we are experiencing a similar crisis in emergencies. The difference is that Ontario hospitals are increasingly using other floors to relieve the emergency,” says Dr. Mathieu.


According to him, it is not uncommon for an Ontario hospital to have an occupancy rate of 130% on the floors, while overcapacity remains marginal in Quebec. Among other things, Dr. Mathieu advocated setting up “departure lounges” for hospitalized patients whose leave is imminent.

Since the minister’s word of order, hospitals double the capacity of some rooms or park patients in hallways on the care units.

Insufficient budget

“Overcapacity should be temporary. The problem is that the overflow of the emergency units is continuous. Even if we admit more patients on the floors, the traffic jam is still there,” he says.

Given the significant cuts in recent years, the $ 100 million injected by Minister Barrette is not enough, he said. “We are not recruiting social workers, occupational therapists and physiotherapists who would accelerate patient departures,” says Dr. Mathieu.

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