MONTREAL -- The Maisonneuve Rosemont and Santa Cabrini Hospitals are looking for help after COVID-19 outbreaks have forced surgeries to be cancelled and emergency rooms to operate beyond capacity.

Maisonneuve Rosemont is one of the Montreal’s COVID-19 hospitals, but at 166 cases of the virus, it is having troubles handling the numbers.

“It’s difficult because it takes 28 days for a unit to be deemed safe again after an outbreak, so it’s limiting the hospital’s ability to accept patients,” said CIUSSS de l’Est-de-l’Ile-de-Montreal executive director Martine Leblanc.

The emergency room at Maisonneuve Rosemont is over capacity and the intensive care unit is full. Eight of its 13 units are affected by an outbreak and four units are surgical forcing the hospital to cancel non-emergency surgeries that require an overnight stay in the hospital.

The solution for the regional health authority is getting patients out of the hospital.

“We need to be able to send patients to long-term care facilities, or a designated area set up by the city, but we can’t have patients staying in the hospital,” said Leblanc.

Maisonneuve Rosemont emergency room doctor Bernard Mathieu feels patients should be transferred like the geriatric and oncology patients at Sacre Coeur that were transferred to Jean Talon and Fleury Hospital over the weekend after an outbreak.

“At the beginning, it was working well, but, since the outbreak at long-term care facilities, we’ve been having a lot of problems getting old people to their homes, so now our capacity is full,” he said. “Once we’re full, we’re full, so it’s very difficult to function adequately.”

The union is also calling on the government to make changes since 850 health-care workers are missing from the Eastern Montreal health authority.

“We need help from the government,” said FIQ vice president Denis Cloutier. “We need more hospitals and we need more places to put patients.”

The Quebec government says help is on the way, and, for those on the front lines, it can’t come soon enough.

"We have a plan to increase to 50 per cent of the capacity surgeries for Maisonneuve Rosemont," said Quebec Health Minister Danielle McCann. "We will reorganize in the next few days and we think that next week they will be able to increase their surgeries."