Montreal

Quebec veterinarians ready to help, as province looks for 'creative solutions' if COVID-19 cases climb

Premier François Legault has repeatedly assured the province has sufficient ventilators and beds to deal with the outbreak. But on Monday, Legault conceded there could be a lack of personnel to operate those ventilators.

'I know there are veterinarians who would be interested,' president of Order of Veterinarians says

The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association said recently many of its members have offered to make their ventilators available to ease the strain on the health-care system. (Submitted by Helene Childs)

Quebec veterinarians say they are prepared to help human patients in the fight against the pandemic, if required.

Premier François Legault has repeatedly assured the province has sufficient ventilators and beds to deal with the outbreak.

But on Monday, Legault conceded there could be a lack of personnel to operate those ventilators if the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations climb.

In case that happens, he said the province is looking to train veterinarians. He called it a "creative solution" to a potential challenge.

"I know there are veterinarians who would be interested," Dr. Caroline Kilsdonk, president of Quebec's Order of Veterinarians, told Radio-Canada.

Kilsdonk said many vets would likely only need a few days training to be able to help operate ventilators.

The order has also drawn up a list of equipment, products and skills that could be handed over if the crisis worsens, Radio-Canada has learned.

The list includes gowns, gloves, masks, as well as ventilators normally used on animals.

"The devices are very similar to what is used in human medicine," said Christine Theoret, dean of the faculty of veterinary medicine at l'Université de Montréal.

The faculty's veterinary hospital has already identified 17 ventilators that could be used. While some are designed for horses and cattle, they could be adapted for humans with minor modifications, she said.

Similar initiatives are underway in other provinces.

The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association said recently many of its members have offered to make their ventilators available to ease the strain on the health-care system.

On Monday, Legault reported the total number of COVID-19 cases in the province climbed to 8,580.

But Legault said he is encouraged by the slow increase in the number of hospitalizations, which public health officials contend is the most accurate measure of the virus's spread.

In a statement Monday, Quebec's Order of Respiratory Therapists said it's ready for any increase in demand and doesn't anticipate additional help will be necessary.

With files from Radio-Canada's Thomas Gerbet

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