The Health Care System in Freefall: A Week Observing an Emergency Ward (Part IV)

Twice in two years, I was hospitalized in the emergency ward for a week for lung problems. Same illness, same treatment, same hospital. I decided to do a comparative portrait of what’s happening in our emergency wards based on these two stays two years apart.

Between 2013 and 2015, hospitals had really changed.

Violence in the ER

By Raymond Viger 

Why is there more violence in hospitals?

More equipment broken or in shortage. That requires the orderlies to start their work by looking for who is using equipment best suited to do a test. They have to wait as a colleague finishes their work before they can borrow the needed equipment.

And a lot of equipment used isn’t 100% functional. The attendants lose a lot of time changing a few bad pieces for good pieces just to get equipment up to 80% functional.

  There’s also the sharing of electrical outlets and oxygen outlets. Plugging my equipment into my neighbor’s outlet can become perilous. On the one hand, each time I have to unplug my IV drip to go to the bathroom, I have to encroach on my neighbor’s space to pull my plug from his panel. I then have to perform the inverse operation when I come back. But in my absence I find that my neighbor, in his delirium, has unplugged everything, all my wiring as well as his own. The needles planted in my arm take quite a pounding.

– Fewer orderlies.  An estimate, not the result of a scientific study. There may have been as many as during my first visit. Except that their workload and losses of time are greatly increased.

– More patients. Another unscientific evaluation, but undoubtedly proven. Have the seasons their role to play in this? Is one season busier than another? Has the refusal of psychiatric hospitals to admit psych patients on a long-term basis increased their presence at Santa Cabrini Hospital?

Patients who were previously seen at the Louis H. Lafontaine Psychiatric Hospital are being turned away, and are ending up at general hospitals. By chance, the week before my second hospital stay I received a call from St-Luc Hospital to tell me that they had too many psychiatric patients. They had to refuse them entry, and were looking for community groups that could accommodate them! I explained to them that we are an organization that receives no subsidies, and that we aren’t equipped to host psych patients for whom there is no follow-up. We refer them to Louis H. Lafontaine or St-Luc, depending on their address.  But neither hospital could continue their work with psych patients.

I suggested to the agent at St-Luc Hospital that they phone up the managers of CLSCs. They know who to contact in their sector. I was then told that since the last mergers they no longer had help from CLSCs.

Our own organization had already lost the valuable support of our local CLSC when the CLSC-CHSLD mergers occurred. Now the hospitals themselves were losing this contact. Unacceptable. For too long the CLSCs have become a mere shadow of what they were supposed to be. They’ve lost their “raison d’être.” As if they were eaten up by the big health care system machine that gobbles up all in its path.  

First seen on Raymond Viger’s blog, December 5th, 2015

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