There is a risk of more preventable deaths in the emergency room at Lakeshore General Hospital and there is an urgent need for changes, an independent researcher said in a new report Thursday.
The report identifies problems in the emergency response team and makes 135 recommendations. Chief among these is the urgent need for a long-promised refurbishment that would give patients more space and privacy and also make it easier for staff to see and care for them.
“It is urgent to tackle this deep renovation,” wrote Francine Dupuis, the report’s author, “and we cannot wait another few years because we are taking a big risk, with bad results.”
The report was ordered in February by Health Minister Christian Dubé after the Montreal Gazette shed light on the deaths of patients there. It is the latest in a series of studies and reports that have been highlighting ER problems for years.
“It is no longer necessary to analyze the situation further: it is time for action,” Dupuis writes.
“We need to end the flood of recommendations and commissions that have been tossed around for years, giving the illusion that they were making progress, when in fact it seems to lead to confusion and paralysis.”
Her report, based on nearly 70 interviews, adds color to the dire situation at the Lakeshore ER. Pointe-Claire Hospital is the only hospital in Montreal’s West Island, an area with a growing and aging population.
Dupuis, former executive director of the Center West health authority, said the in-hospital mortality rate (deaths per 1,000 visits) is the second highest of any community hospital in the Montreal area. She did not say which hospital was at the top of the list.
Partly due to the design of the institution, the rate is high. The ER is housed in what was originally intended as a temporary addition to the hospital.
It is busy. Gurneys line the hallways and families struggle to find space to care for loved ones. At a press conference, Dupuis described it as Sint-Katelijnestraat during rush hour.
The staff also struggles with malfunctioning or broken equipment and the institution faces the same problems that health care institutions across the province and the country face, such as organizational problems, aging infrastructure and staff shortages. But the lakeshore is handling these challenges worse than other places, Dupuis wrote.
Her 135 recommendations include calls to improve staffing and communication between frontline workers and their supervisors and managers, but she noted that even if these issues are resolved, the source of the problem – the layout and age of the crowded space – will continue to exist. to lead to problems.
Until the ER is renovated, “other unfortunate events are likely to happen,” according to the Dupuis report.
New modular ER addition coming in fall
Dan Gabay, the CEO of the West Island health authority, said the hospital will receive relief in the fall.
A $13 million replacement emergency room will be added to the hospital to increase space.
The overflow room should help staff keep an eye on patients, Dupuis said. One of the problems with today’s emergency room is that it is overcrowded and patients in need are sometimes out of sight.
In response to a question about whether the ER was safe for patients, Dupuis said it was.
“Yes. There are things that are already happening and there are things that will happen very soon,” she said. “You ask me if I have a crystal ball and I don’t have one. But I’m sure everyone is very careful to do the right thing.”
But the full renovation of the ER, promised in the run-up to the 2018 provincial election campaign, is still years away. The project is awaiting approval from the health ministry, Gabay said, and won’t be completed for another four or five years.
Gabay said he will ensure that Dupuis’s recommendations are implemented.
“This is why I was appointed,” he said. “I dream for Lakeshore. I see a future (for) Lakeshore. Many great pieces are already in place and at this point I am very confident that by using the report we will be able to work with the clinicians, doctors, nurses and various professionals to move forward.”