Montreal hospitals urging flu patients to stay home
Some of Montreal's hospitals operating at overcapacity these days, prompting the city's public health officials to issue a familiar plea: unless it's truly and emergency, stay away from emergency rooms.
According to figures published by Montreal’s health agency, Ste. Justine Hospital registered 267 patients on Monday 104 of whom are complaining of flu-like symptoms.
The Montreal Children's Hospital registered 297 patients, 129 with flu-like symptoms.
Doctors said that's 50 to 100 more patients than normal, and that 60 percent of those patients do not have urgent health matters.
Dr. Dubravka Diksic said there patients should stop and consider if their children really need urgent care before showing up at an emergency room.
"Children who are having trouble breathing. If you feel that your child is breathing much harder and faster than normal then for sure we should take a look and see what is going on," said Dr. Diksic.
Children with flu or gastro symptoms often have to wait hours before they're seen, as more serious cases take precedence, and are often sent home with orders to drink more fluids.
Doctors are reminding parents to check the hospitals' websites for health advice or call Info-Sante before heading to the E.R., because the best place for a child with an uncomplicated cold or flu is at home.
The same advice applies for adults – they should avoid E.R.s too, unless it really is an emergency.
The high number of flu cases could be explained by the H3N2 flu strain.
Canada's Public Health Agency says this year's flu vaccine is not as effective at protecting against that particular strain.
“The adult hospitals of the MUHC and namely the Royal Victoria hospital have also seen higher than normal volumes for this time of year. We're running most of the time at 150-200 per cent capacity,” said Dr. Sophie Gosselin of the Royal Victoria Hospital.
But if you're unsure about your health, or that of your little one, and you want to see a doctor, a local clinic is probably your best bet.
“If it's something that needs to go to the hospital we send them on, but most of the time we can take care of their problems here. It's one-stop shopping and quick,” said Dr. Nana Graves of the Clinique Enfant-Medic.