MONTREAL - Doctors at LaSalle Hospital say their work environment is outdated, overcrowded, and in desperate need of a makeover.

They aren't complaining because they want the emergency room to look better; they say equipment is falling apart and mould is spreading in the ventilation system.

Doctors Francois Langlais and Tony Assouline made a series of videos and posted them online to document the problems. They are hoping the attention will lead to action.

Among the problems shown in the videos are mouldy ceiling tiles, worn out examination tables, and boxes of supplies that block doorways.

Dr. Henri Lapin, who works in the hospital's internal medicine department, says wear and tear is expected in hospitals, but there comes a point when the necessities need to be replaced.

"You can't use aging, breaking equipment forever," said Dr. Lapin.

"The idea is to replace things before it breaks down, before it becomes critical and this is what has not happened here."

In the series of videos Dr. Assouline points out a litany of problems:

  • Several examination rooms have tables where the vinyl covering has worn out
  • Another exam room doubles as a supply locker for requisition slips
  • Doctors hang their coats in the bathroom because it's the only room with coat hooks
  • Mould is easily spotted spreading from ceiling ventilation

The hospital administration says in May 2010 it submitted a proposal to the government for a $40 million renovation project, but it has yet to hear a response.

The hospital would like renovations to be completed by 2013, 30 years after the last time it had a face-lift.

Improvements promised

Health Minister Yves Bolduc promised in Quebec City that there would be an announcement on the renovations in the next few days.

"It's a priority file for us," he told reporters at the provincial legislature.

Karine Lacerte, a spokeswoman for the regional health authority that covers the hospital, said the institution didn't authorize the videos.

"We don't condone but we don't condemn," she said.

Lacerte said the videos were shot in December and some of the problems have already been fixed or addressed.

"Even though the conditions are not optimal, the patients' security and the health care services' quality are still optimal."

She said correcting the problems is an ongoing process and that the doctors' frustration is understandable since they work in the emergency room every day.

Doctors first began complaining about the state of the emergency room in 2004.

with files from The Canadian Press