Montreal

Nurses union questions how helpful specialist doctors could be in CHSLDs

The Quebec government made a point of asking specialist doctors yesterday to pitch in at long-term care homes, but health-care workers warned the details of the operation remain unclear.

'It doesn't make any sense,' says union rep, as specialists wouldn't be as efficient as nurses

In his news conference on Wednesday, François Legault suggested specialists would have to do tasks normally done by nurses. (Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press)

The Quebec government made a point of asking specialist doctors yesterday to pitch in at long-term care homes, but health-care workers warned many details of the operation remain unclear. 

Dr. Diane Francoeur, the president of he Quebec Federation of Medical Specialists, said by Thursday morning around 1,300 of the federation's members had indicated they were willing to do whatever is needed at the care facilities, which are also known as CHSLDs.

But Francoeur said it was now up to the government to tell the specialists where to go. "We're still waiting for the precious list of the centres that need help," Francoeur said in an interview.

In his news conference on Wednesday, Legault suggested the specialists would have to do tasks normally done by nurses, though they would still be paid their base rate of $211/hour.

But representatives of the province's nurses questioned the logic of Legault's plan. "It doesn't make any sense," said Roberto Bomba, treasurer of the Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec, a nurses union.

Dr. Diane Francoeur, the president of the Quebec Federation of Medical Specialists, questioned why Legault called on specialist doctors to help in CHSLDs when they have been making the same offer for weeks. (Radio-Canada)

What's needed at CHSLDs, Bomba said, are people with knowledge of geriatrics. He's worried staff at these facilities are already so overworked they won't have time to bring the specialists up to speed about protocols, or even tell them where to find medication. 

"It's like survival of the fittest. You've got to do the best you can," he said.

Why not call nurses first, union asks 

Others questioned why Legault was so desperate to call on specialist doctors when there are others in the health-care system with the required training. 

Nurses in specialized hospital units, such as respiratory therapy, have been waiting on the sidelines because the anticipated surge in hospitalizations never materialized, said Denyse Joseph, the FIQ's vice-president.

Joseph wondered why Health Minister Danielle McCann hadn't called on those nurses first. "On one hand, McCann is saying there's not enough people and on the other hand we know people are not being called into work," Joseph said. 

Just days after the coronavirus outbreak hit Quebec, the provincial government launched a website to recruit people with medical training to support the health-care system.

Thousands of retired nurses, or nurses who left the profession for other reasons, enrolled on the website. But many of them say they never heard back from the government.  

A spokesperson for the Health Ministry said officials are sifting through the applications and passing them on to regional public authorities. To date, 39,444 applications have been received.

With files from CBC's Daybreak and Radio-Canada

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversationCreate account

Already have an account?

now