Hull Hospital gurneys only 'good for recycling'

The fleet of gurneys at the Gatineau, Que., hospital is largely 'obsolete' and needs to be replaced, according to documents obtained by Radio-Canada under a freedom of information request.

Many are old and need to be replaced, according to internal documents

Suppliers and administrators have raised concerns about the age of the gurneys at the Hull Hospital in Gatineau, Que., according to internal emails obtained by Radio-Canada. (Radio-Canada)

The Hull Hospital's fleet of gurneys is largely "obsolete" and needs to be replaced, according to documents obtained by Radio-Canada under a freedom of information request.

Recent email exchanges indicate that 55 of the 141 gurneys at the hospital in Gatineau, Que., have been in use for more than 20 years.

In an email exchange on Feb. 4, 2020, between a regular supplier and an equipment manager at the Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de l'Outaouais (CISSSO), the gurneys were described as only being "good for recycling".

The supplier added that the health authority should buy at least 40 more, "just to remove those which are obsolete."

In an earlier email from Sept. 19, 2019, one clinical and administrative co-ordinator wrote that there was "a great need for gurneys" at the Hull Hospital.

The documents show that in January 2019, CISSSO managers requested suppliers deliver five gurneys intended for the Gatineau Hospital to the Hull Hospital instead. Then this past January, a procurement officer also asked for the loan of two gurneys to the Hull emergency department, writing the need was "urgent."

"Please deliver them to us as soon as possible," the request said.

As of February 2019, 25 per cent of gurneys in all Outaouais emergency rooms were over 20 years old. Hospitals in Maniwaki, Shawville and Saint-André-Avellin were also using "obsolete" and "inadequate" equipment, according to the same emails.

Gurneys 'safe for use': CISSSO

CISSSO declined to be interviewed, but in an email to Radio-Canada, media relations officer Marie-Pier Després said there was no shortage of gurneys and that "despite their age, they are all safe for use".

Fifteen new gurneys were ordered at the beginning of the year, at a cost of $4,245 each. The Quebec Ministry of Health guidelines specify that gurneys are expected to last at least 20 years. 

Patient-rights group Action Santé Outaouais believes CISSSO managers are doing what they can, given that they're dependent on government funding.

"[They must] always knock on the door of Quebec to get money for things as basic as gurneys," said group president Denis Marcheterre, adding CISSSO should act quickly to replace the equipment before four out of every five gurneys become obsolete.