The emergency room of the Senneterre Health Centre, in Abitibi-Témiscamingue, reopened its doors full time at 8 a.m. Monday.

Since Oct. 18, it was closed 16 hours a day, from 4 p.m. to 8 a.m. the next day due to a lack of nursing staff.

Senneterre Mayor Nathalie Ann Pelchat confirmed a few days ago that at least three nurses would be arriving as reinforcements so that the ER could serve the population full-time.

A few weeks after the partial closure of the service, the relatives of a 60-year-old man claimed that the break in service played a role in his death.

Richard Genest was suffering unbearable chest pain on Nov. 29 and had to call the ambulance because he could not get to the Senneterre emergency room.

However, at the time of the call, the only ambulance serving Senneterre was already on its way to Val-d'Or. Therefore a Barraute ambulance, about 30 km away, had to come and get the 65-year-old man.

According to his son Miguel Genest, the man waited for an hour and a half before the ambulance arrived. He was transported to Val-d'Or, more than 60 kilometres southwest of Senneterre. Miguel Genest then received a call from a Val-d'Or doctor telling him that his father should have been directed to the Amos Hospital, where he was finally transported, 70 kilometres from Val-d'Or.

Richard Genest died in the elevator that took him to the operating room in Amos.

In a letter sent shortly thereafter to Health Minister Christian Dubé, Pelchat said that if Richard Genest had been able to see a doctor in Senneterre, he would have identified the urgency of the situation.

There was no cardiologist at the Val-d'Or hospital where he was first taken, according to what the local doctor confirmed to the victim's son.

At the time the emergency room's closure was announced from 4 p.m. to 8 a.m., Dubé said that the situation was temporary.

Abitibi-Témiscamingue CISSS CEO Caroline Roy said that the closure of the Senneterre emergency room was not a factor in the death of Richard Genest.

The Quebec Coroner's Office has opened an inquiry into his death.

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on March 7, 2022.