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  • Writer's pictureTrevor Greenway

Doctors petition to ease er crisis needs your signature

If ever there was a petition to sign, the one that Outaouais doctors launched this past week is it. 


More than 15 doctors and pharmacists in the region have launched a petition to urge the Quebec government to inject the Outaouais with healthcare funding, pay medical staff more and fix the “crisis” that they say will only worsen. 


According to a recent Observatoire de développement de l’Outaouais report, the Outaouais needs a $180-million injection “to reach the average investment level of other regions."


While healthcare professionals and watchdogs have been ringing the alarm bells for several years, the recent departure of three radiologists from the Hull Hospital has put so much pressure on the system that it’s causing a cascade of effects on other regional services. And doctors are expecting the situation to worsen.


“This departure will more than likely put in peril the ability to perform scans 24 hours a day in the regional centre of trauma and neurology serving a population base of more than 400,000 people,” reads the petition. “Our capacity to intervene in a timely fashion for traumas, strokes and many more health problems will be severely compromised and will put lives in danger. A coroner’s report has already established a link between the delay in performing a scan and the accidental death of a man in 2020 because the scan in Hull Hospital was broken.”


According to the Conseil des médecins, dentistes et pharmaciens (CMDP) of the CISSS de l’Outaouais, to avoid a similar death, the region “is obliged to cease or decrease many radiology services elsewhere.” This includes closing radiology in St-André-Avellin, decreasing hours in Papineau, Wakefield and Maniwaki, closing the MRI in Gatineau, and decreasing cancer screenings, elective X-rays, ultrasounds, scans, and MRIs throughout the region. 


Vigi Santé spokesperson Marcel Chartrand said that more than half of the patients who fill the ER waiting room at Wakefield Hospital are from Gatineau – patients with minor ailments who don’t want to wait more than 12 hours at their local hospital. They come to Wakefield, where wait times are still long – an average of six hours –but not as long as at other city hospitals. 


According to the CMDP, the salary discrepancy between Quebec and Ontario, where technicians earn $30,000 more, is pushing ERs and ORs to the brink. The ER is operating at 29 per cent staffing at the Gatineau Hospital, and it recently had to close down temporarily. In Hull, the ER is functioning at less than 50 per cent staffing. The operating room at the Gatineau Hospital is struggling at just 25 per cent of staff, while Hull’s OR is at 43 per cent. The CMDP also said that waiting times for elective surgeries in the Outaouais “are, by far, the longest in the province.”


These alarms aren’t new. Doctors and watchdogs have been crying for years, and governments have known about this crisis since at least 2018, when the Institut de recherche et d’informations socioéconomiques (IRIS) found that the region was underfunded by more than $250 million. 


But nothing has been done. One man has died because of these problems, and doctors fear more will die if the CAQ doesn’t take this seriously. Our MNA Robert Bussière has remained silent on the issue, although the CAQ’s minister of health told the Low Down that his government is “monitoring” the situation.


Start by adding your support to the petition. Access it at shorturl.at/luADV

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