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Nikhil Prasad  Fact checked by:Thailand Medical News Team Dec 29, 2023  1 month, 3 weeks, 5 days, 16 hours, 43 minutes ago

BREAKING COVID-19 News-Canada! Doctors Are Literally ‘Crying For Help’ As Emergency Rooms Situation Is Beyond Control In Quebec!

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BREAKING COVID-19 News-Canada! Doctors Are Literally ‘Crying For Help’ As Emergency Rooms Situation Is Beyond Control In Quebec!
Nikhil Prasad  Fact checked by:Thailand Medical News Team Dec 29, 2023  1 month, 3 weeks, 5 days, 16 hours, 43 minutes ago
COVID-19 News-Canada: Quebec finds itself engulfed in an escalating healthcare emergency as winter tightens its grip, with emergency rooms (ERs) overflowing and posing a dire threat to the health and lives of its residents. This resurgence mirrors the dire situation experienced in November and December 2022, signifying an ongoing struggle for the beleaguered healthcare system. In fact, emerging statistics are showing that in a few days, the situation is likely to surpass whatever was witnessed in previous surges!

The current emergency room occupancy rates, as reported by Quebec’s government’s Index Santé website, have consistently exceeded 100 percent since November 12. As of December 29, 2023, the average rate across the province has reached a staggering 119 percent, with specific regions such as Laval and Lanaudière experiencing rates of 155 percent and 175 percent, respectively. In Montreal, the heart of Quebec, the rate stands at 129 percent.
It is interesting to note that despite the worsening conditions not only in Quebec but across many parts of Canada, no mainstream media or international wire agencies are reporting any COVID-19 News-Canada coverages on the unfolding COVID-19 crisis driven by the JN.1 variant and its emerging spawns and also the influenza surge.
The Deepening Emergency Room Crisis
To comprehend the gravity of the ongoing healthcare crisis, it is imperative to delve into the statistics as of December 29, 2023. A total of 3,743 individuals find themselves in emergency, awaiting medical attention. Shockingly, 1,200 people are in the queue to see a doctor in the ER departments, reflecting the severe strain on healthcare resources. The average length of stay for individuals in the waiting room extends to 5 hours and 24 minutes, while those on stretchers endure an alarming average wait of 17 hours and 52 minutes. The stretcher occupancy rate has surged to 119 percent, with 2,325 stretchers occupied out of a functional capacity of 1,954. The situation exacerbates as 511 patients have endured more than 24 hours on stretchers, and 130 patients surpass the 48-hour mark, underscoring the dire challenges faced by the healthcare system.
Doctors' Urgent Plea
The unfolding crisis has compelled emergency room doctors to issue an urgent plea to Health Minister Christian Dubé just before Christmas. In a letter written by Dr Marie-Maud Couture, president of the Regroupement des Chefs d’Urgence du Québec, and supported by the Quebec Association of Specialists in Emergency Medicine, doctors highlight that conditions in emergency rooms across the province are spiraling "out of control." The dire consequences of overcrowding are emphasized, with the letter stating that daily mortality is becoming a stark reality. Dr Couture goes on to explain that congestion in emergency departments is contributing to mortality, with an estimated one excess death for every 82 patients admitted, a statistic that fails to account for indirect deaths. r />  
The "Triple Epidemic" Challenge
The immediate cause of the overwhelming emergency room crisis is attributed to the "triple epidemic" of respiratory viruses besieging the province. Influenza, COVID-19, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) are infecting Quebecers at an alarming rate. According to the Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ), approximately 135,000 Quebecers contract a respiratory virus every day.
COVID-19 is believed to be responsible for a third of these infections, although official figures continue to underestimate the true extent. The reported 5,712 new cases for the week ending December 23 only scratch the surface, as they rely on PCR tests accessible to a limited portion of the population.
Persistent Impact of COVID-19
The impact of COVID-19 on Quebec's healthcare system is monumental, with hospitalizations reaching 2,300 individuals as of the latest data.
This surpasses the figures observed in 2020 and 2021 before the onslaught of the Omicron wave. The policy of mass infection adopted in previous years has seemingly allowed the virus to establish a permanent and elevated baseline, as evidenced by the persistently high hospitalization rates.
COVID-19 continues to claim lives, with 198 reported deaths between November 26 and December 23, bringing the official count of COVID deaths in Quebec since 2020 to 19,282.
Public Health and Vaccination Challenges
Beyond the immediate crisis, the impact of COVID-19 on broader public health is evident in Statistics Canada's annual report on life expectancy in Canada. For the third consecutive year, life expectancy has fallen, from 82.3 years in 2019 to 81.3 in 2022. COVID-19 emerged as the leading cause of death in the country in 2022, accounting for over 19,700 deaths and becoming the third leading cause of death, responsible for approximately 6 percent of all deaths. In the most populous provinces, Quebec and Ontario, mortality caused by COVID-19 increased by 38 percent in 2022 compared to 2021, underlining the significant impact of the virus on public health.
Government's Role and Downplaying of Risks
Criticism has been directed towards the right-wing Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) government, corporate-controlled media outlets, and the federal Liberal government for downplaying the dangers associated with COVID-19. The decision to lift the COVID-19 health emergency in June 2022 and remove all preventive measures, including mandatory mask-wearing, has contributed to the current crisis. The lack of comprehensive data and imprecise reporting on hospitalizations linked to COVID-19 have hindered efforts to effectively track and contain the virus.
Healthcare System Failures
The ongoing crisis in emergency departments and the broader healthcare system can be traced back to systemic issues that have plagued Quebec for decades. Successive governments, including the Parti Québécois and Quebec Liberal Party, have implemented severe cuts, while the current Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) government's austerity measures, announced in its March budget, have exacerbated the strain on healthcare resources. Despite the clear and persistent challenges faced by the healthcare system, the government's commitment to allocating sufficient funds and resources remains a pressing concern.
Failed Government Initiatives
Efforts by Health Minister Christian Dubé to address the ER crisis have faced setbacks, reflecting systemic issues within the healthcare infrastructure. The Specialized Nurse Practitioner (SNP) clinic, established with the intent of alleviating pressure on emergency departments, suffered a blow as its only two full-time nurses resigned in November. The issues cited included issues impacting the quality and safety of care, notably a lack of equipment. Similarly, the Info-Santé line (811), designed to direct non-emergency cases away from ERs, is overwhelmed, with 42.3 percent of callers hanging up before receiving any advice.
Human Toll: Tragic Incidents
The indifference of the ruling class and the ongoing healthcare crisis pose a serious threat to the lives of Quebecers. Recent revelations about two deaths in the emergency room of Anna-Laberge hospital shed light on the human toll of the crisis. Administrative investigations are underway, but preliminary examinations suggest that one person died after a 12-hour wait, far beyond the 30 minutes allocated for a doctor's consultation in triage. The stretcher occupancy rate at Anna-Laberge Hospital reached an alarming 184 percent, painting a grim picture of the challenges faced by healthcare facilities in providing timely and adequate care.
Government Accountability and Transparency
Amidst the unfolding crisis, questions of government accountability and transparency come to the forefront. The decision to lift the COVID-19 health emergency in June 2022, signaling a return to normalcy, has been scrutinized as the healthcare system grapples with an unprecedented surge in cases. The absence of mandatory mask-wearing in healthcare centers, a measure crucial for infection control, has been a point of contention. The lack of comprehensive and accurate data on hospitalizations linked to COVID-19 further complicates the ability to gauge the severity of the crisis.
The Human Impact: Stories from the Frontlines
As emergency rooms struggle to cope with the influx of patients, healthcare professionals are grappling with burnout, exhaustion, and emotional strain. Stories from the frontline paint a vivid picture of the human impact of the crisis. Overworked nurses and doctors recount their experiences of working extended shifts, witnessing the suffering of patients, and confronting the limitations of the healthcare system. The toll on mental health among healthcare workers is a growing concern, as they navigate the overwhelming demands of their profession amidst the backdrop of a strained healthcare infrastructure.
The Need for Immediate Reforms
The ongoing crisis has laid bare the vulnerabilities and shortcomings of Quebec's healthcare system, necessitating immediate reforms. While addressing the immediate challenges posed by the surge in COVID-19 cases is paramount, a comprehensive and long-term strategy is essential to build a resilient healthcare system capable of withstanding future crises. The government must reassess its budgetary allocations, prioritize healthcare funding, and collaborate with healthcare professionals to implement effective and sustainable solutions.
Community Engagement and Public Awareness
The community plays a pivotal role in navigating the current crisis and shaping the future of healthcare in Quebec. Public awareness campaigns on the importance of vaccination, preventive measures, and responsible behavior can contribute to mitigating the spread of the virus. Engaging communities in discussions about healthcare priorities, advocating for necessary reforms, and fostering a sense of collective responsibility can create a more resilient and responsive healthcare ecosystem.
International Collaboration and Learning from Global Best Practices
In the face of a global health crisis, collaboration with international health organizations and learning from global best practices become crucial. Quebec can benefit from insights and experiences of countries that have successfully navigated similar challenges. Collaboration with global health experts, sharing data and strategies, and adopting evidence-based approaches can enhance the province's ability to respond effectively to the current crisis and prepare for future health emergencies.
The escalating healthcare crisis in Quebec, marked by overwhelmed emergency rooms and a surge in COVID-19 cases, demands urgent attention, comprehensive reforms, and a collective commitment to building a resilient healthcare system. The human toll, stories from healthcare professionals, and the challenges faced by the healthcare infrastructure underscore the urgency of immediate action. Government accountability, transparency, and public awareness are pivotal in navigating the current crisis and shaping a sustainable healthcare future for Quebec. As the province grapples with the complexities of the healthcare emergency, a holistic approach that integrates immediate measures, long-term reforms, and international collaboration is essential to safeguard the health and well-being of Quebecers.
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