Sainte-Justine, Montreal Children's hospitals swamped by flu cases
Patients can expect to wait several hours to see a doctor, hospitals advise
Montreal's two children's hospitals are struggling to manage record-breaking numbers in their ERs, triggered by a flood of patients with flu-like symptoms.
Officials at the Montreal Children's and Sainte-Justine hospitals are urging anyone with mild symptoms like stomach upset and fever to stay home.
"Emergency services should be reserved for people whose state of health requires urgent care," said Dr. Antonio D'Angelo, chief of emergency medicine at Sainte-Justine Hospital, in a statement.
"If you have the flu, drink plenty of water and rest. You can also ask your pharmacist to relieve your symptoms."
Speaking to CBC, D'Angelo said that patients with non-urgent cases at Sainte Justine have had to wait up to 12 hours in recent days.
The Sainte-Justine ER currently treats about 300 patients a day, which is about 80 people over capacity, he said.
D'Angelo said part of the problem is parents have few alternatives to the ER, especially outside regular work hours.
"I think definitely the health system has to adapt to help working families so that there are services available on evenings and weekends," he said.
"This is when we see our highest numbers of patients."
The hospitals say parents concerned about their child who is suffering from a cold or flu should first call Info-Santé at 811, consult their family doctor or talk to a pharmacist about managing symptoms.