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Respiratory infections are putting pressure on Montreal's pediatric hospitals

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Montreal's pediatric hospitals are asking for parents' cooperation as the holiday season approaches, urging them to avoid emergency departments if their child's condition does not require immediate care.

The circulation of respiratory viruses is causing major problems in Quebec's emergency units.

That's particularly the case in Montreal pediatric hospitals, where many toddlers are suffering from complications linked to the respiratory syncytial virus.

The heads of CHU Sainte-Justine and the Montreal Children's Hospital met with media on Wednesday morning for a joint press conference on "the pressure on emergency departments caused by the influx of various infections."

CHU Sainte-Justine Emergency Chief Dr. Antonio D'Angelo and Montreal Children's Hospital Emergency Medical Director Dr. Laurie Plotnick urged parents not to bring their children to the ER if their condition can be treated at home or by another professional.

They recommend calling the 8-1-1 line first, or seeking an appointment at a clinic.

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According to data provided by the two establishments, between Nov. 17 and Dec. 1, the rate of emergency patients whose level of prioritization was deemed non-urgent (P4-P5) was 57.73 per cent at the Montreal Children's Hospital and 37.26 per cent at CHU Sainte-Justine.

More specifically, they emphasized that children will catch colds and infections, and run fevers – that's a normal and necessary process for children to build up antibodies. Pediatricians add that as long as a child remains active, breathes well and keeps hydrated, there is no cause for alarm.

However, if a child under six months of age develops a fever or appears lethargic, or has difficulty hydrating or breathing, doctors said not to take any chances and to go to the emergency room.

According to data available on the Health and Social Services Ministry dashboard, the stretcher occupancy rate at the Montreal Children's Hospital ER stood at 158 per cent on Wednesday morning. At CHU Sainte-Justine, the occupancy rate was just 19 per cent.

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