Ottawa

Go to Ontario for care, Outaouais union tells patients

A health-care workers' union in the Outaouais says its members are exhausted and need a break, and is suggesting patients cross the Ottawa River to seek care in Ontario.

Health-care workers in western Quebec burnt out, SPSO says

Health-care workers in western Quebec are routinely forced to work mandatory overtime, the Syndicat des professionnelles en soins de l'Outaouais says. (Shutterstock)

A health-care workers' union in the Outaouais says its members are exhausted and need a break, and is suggesting patients cross the Ottawa River to seek care in Ontario.

The Syndicat des professionnelles en soins de l'Outaouais (SPSO) made the suggestion in a social media post, and accused the region's health authority, the Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de l'Outaouais (CISSSO) of letting its members down.

"They are tired, overworked. We're asking them to do overtime all the time, mandatory overtime," said Patrick Guay, the union's acting president, in a French-language interview.

"It's a problem everywhere. It's endemic."

Guay said on Wednesday alone, intensive care unit employees at hospitals in Gatineau, Maniwaki and Shawville were forced to work overtime.

Guay said he's aware the union's message is being poorly received by both the regional health authority and Quebec's Minister of Health.

"Our health-care workers want to provide care safely — quality care — but when they're overworked [and] they have to do overtime, it increases the risk of errors."

Guay suggested patients consider local alternatives such as medical clinics and tele-medicine first, and to seek care in Ontario only as a last resort. At the same time, he cautioned residents not to put themselves at risk, and get to the nearest emergency room if necessary.

SPSO acting president Patrick Guay says there are local alternatives, but patients should also be prepared to go to Ontario for care. (Radio-Canada)

Alternatives available

The CISSSO agrees there are alternatives for non-emergency cases.

"At all times, the CISSS Outaouais encourages the population to use alternatives other than going to the emergency room to treat non-emergency health problems. Advice and guidance to the right resources are available for the entire population of the Outaouais," the health authority wrote in an email to Radio-Canada.

Alternatives include family doctors, medical clinics, outpatient pediatric centres, pharmacists and Info-Santé, the province's tele-medicine service.

Ottawa hospitals ready

The Ottawa Hospital said it's aware of the pressures facing health-care workers in western Quebec.

"As always, we will work closely with all regional health partners in Ontario and Quebec to ensure that patients have access to the care they need," the hospital wrote in a statement to CBC News.

The Montfort Hospital said it's aware of the SPSO post, but wouldn't comment. While it accepts patients from any province, the bilingual hospital's website reminds patients that Ontario doctors can't order tests or set up appointments with specialists at Quebec hospitals, nor can they complete workers' compensation forms for Quebec residents.

With files from Florence Ngue-No

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