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Another hot summer in hospitals: 450 more beds closed this summer

Another hot summer in hospitals: 450 more beds closed this summer ;

BET À DAY

Already the health network is operating at a slower pace due to a staff shortage, 450 more beds will be closed this summer to allow exhausted employees to take vacations.

“We hope to be wrong, but we have the impression that it will be like last summer,” admits Dr. Judy Morris, president of the Association of Emergency Physicians of Quebec. 

A total of 453 beds will be closed in 26 hospitals this summer between the end of June and the beginning of September, compiled Le Journal

More than 1,600 in all

This slowdown in activities is normal during the summer to allow employees to take their vacations. 

The lack of beds on the floors causes increased pressure on the emergency room, which has more difficulty transferring patients. However, traffic has returned to its pre-pandemic level, but hospitals have fewer staff. 

This drop in service is in addition this year to the 1,170 beds that are already closed due to shortage of personnel, according to data from the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MSSS). A total of 1,623 beds will therefore be closed this summer, i.e. 9% of the total.

“One of the priorities of the MSSS is to respond to the clear order to give vacation time to health personnel this summer. To do this, we will revise the service corridors in order to direct patients to the right places according to priorities”, we write by email.

Before the pandemic, less than 1000 beds were closed during the 'summer. And this figure could even increase, since directions have mentioned other possible closures. 

Photo courtesy of Dr Gilbert Boucher

“We no longer know where to turn for help,” says Dr. Gilbert Boucher, president of the Association of Emergency Medicine Specialists of Quebec. The population needs services, but we are dysfunctional because we have so many patients. »

“By the end of August, we do not see what will come to help us,” he admits. 

These days, up to 14% of patients return to the home without having seen the doctor, which is more than usual (9%). 

In Abitibi-Témiscamingue, where there is a shortage of 300 nurses out of 1,000 positions, all kinds of services will be canceled this summer, including home care. 

“Crying Nurses”

In Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, 44 beds are closed, and the lack of staff is forcing nurses to work overtime in intensive care. 

“We have nurses in tears, they don't more,” says Mélanie Gignac, president of the union of the Interprofessional Health Federation.

Meanwhile, 157,000 Quebecers are waiting for surgery. Those who require a long hospital stay may have their operation postponed due to lack of beds.

“It really has an impact on the whole network,” says Dr. Morris. The surgeries always slow down [during the summer], but there with the lack of beds […] they will still have to cut. » 

Some regions such as Laval and Gaspésie do not close any beds during the summer.

Establishment and number  

Total 453 beds closed

Last summer, 2845 beds were closed in hospitals, mainly in due to the pandemic. 

Editor’s note These figures foresee bed closures from the end of June to the beginning of September. These are estimates, the data could change depending on the workforce. At the time of publication, the closure plan had not yet been established for the CISSSs of Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean and Mauricie. The CISSS de Lanaudière refused to provide its data to the Journal. 

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