Cases on the rise at Saint-Jérôme Hospital, where staff denounce mixing of zones
There have been 8 outbreaks at the hospital in the month of November alone
Health-care workers at Saint-Jerôme Hospital say the Quebec government and the local health authority aren't doing enough to contain the virus within its walls, leading to a growing death toll, a crowded emergency room and an increase in surgery delays.
According to the local health authority's internal documents, obtained by Radio-Canada, 76 patients have died since the beginning of the pandemic.
A total of 277 patients have tested positive for COVID-19 and in November alone there have been eight separate outbreaks at the hospital in Quebec's Laurentians region.
Emergency room workers have given up on separating those with symptoms from those without, staff members told Radio-Canada.
"Because of the overflow right now, we have hot patients mixed with cold in just about every section of the emergency room," said Chloé Jamaty, head of emergency room services at the hospital.
"In the hallway, there is literally 30 centimetres between patient stretchers and there is no physical barrier between them."
Vascular surgeon Dr. Yen Luu worries more cases could overwhelm the hospital.
"Sixty-five per cent of our beds are in rooms with two, three, sometimes even four patients per room," Luu said.
The hospital hopes to reduce the surgery delays thanks to a $19-million temporary facility with 57 beds, expected to open by January.
Staff say crowding in the ER has improved in recent days, but they say there is still a serious lack of space at the hospital.
One official with the regional health authority says the Saint-Jérôme hospital doesn't have enough beds to meet the needs of the nearby population, which has doubled in the last 40 years.
Work to upgrade the hospital has been delayed, with the planned end date pushed from 2027 to 2029.
Staff say they hope the recent outbreaks are a wake-up call that will lead to immediate changes in how the hospital manages outbreaks.
With files from Radio-Canada and Matt D'Amours