Quebec to open clinics led by nurse practitioners to ease Montreal’s ER crisis |

The Quebec government is rolling out a series of short-term measures to curb overcrowding in hospital emergency rooms in Montreal, the province’s health minister announced Tuesday.

Health Minister Christian Dubé said the newly created crisis management team to address the ongoing issue is composed of about 20 people, including emergency room doctors and nurses. They looked at several different ideas in the last week.

“We know the solutions but the challenge is implementing them,” he told reporters.

Dubé said they came up with a plan composed of three “concrete” measures. This includes a “one call, one service” option for anyone seeking medical aid or advice. Quebecers of all ages can call the 811 hotline and then get an appointment if necessary.

“This is to avoid visits to the ER,” Dubé said.

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

The province will also create two clinics in Montreal overseen by specialized nurse practitioners, so that pressure is taken off local emergency departments and physicians. It’s a step that “we should have taken a long time ago,” the health minister admitted.

As for the third measure, the Quebec government wants to facilitate the transfer of patients who no longer need hospital care to other care settings. The goal is to free up more beds in ERs and on other hospital floors.

Dubé said the government has put out a call for tender for 1,700 beds outside the hospital network, adding 58 per cent of that extra bed space has already been found.

The plan comes as patients experience long waiting times and Montreal-area emergency departments face high occupancy rates. It was announced the same day a letter was made public from the heads of the province’s emergency departments saying ERs in the province have reached a “breaking point.”

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The Indexsanté website, which tracks the situation in ERs across the province, reported that city hospitals were operating at an average of 138 per cent capacity as of Tuesday afternoon.

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Pediatric ERs have been particularly hard hit in recent weeks, with the Montreal Children’s Hospital operating at 175 per cent in the most recent update, while Sainte-Justine hospital not far behind at 163 per cent.

with files from The Canadian Press

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