The McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) announced last April its decision to reopen the Lachine Hospital emergency unit 24/7, but the public will now have to wait until the end of September to benefit from the new service.

In a memo sent to staff this week, the MUHC announced that the Lachine ER will remain closed at night until September. According to confirmation obtained from management, the measure, which began on Feb. 14, will run until Sept. 25.

No one at the MUHC was available to answer questions from The Canadian Press on Wednesday. In an e-mailed response, the MUHC confirmed that the ER will remain open only between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m.

However, the MUHC continued to create confusion on its own web platforms. The words "24/7 emergency" are still prominently displayed on an information page about the Lachine Hospital, alongside a box indicating the opposite.

Calling the decision to extend the night closure "astonishing", the Association des médecins omnipraticiens de Montréal (AMOM) issued a press release on Wednesday afternoon, denouncing this "contradictory message" to the public.

"This is worrying for the local population. Many of our members who work there also deplore the situation and have no idea what lies ahead," reads a quote attributed to AMOM president Dr. Michel Vachon.

In an interview with The Canadian Press, Dr. Vachon went even further, saying that "it doesn't make any sense." He added that this double talk from management is creating "an unbearable climate" for doctors in the field. Many doctors may be tempted to jump ship if their working hours are reduced at a time when demand is enormous in other hospitals.

"We're wondering if this isn't the idea behind the MUHC creating this uncertainty in the field," the family doctor said.

"Right now, everyone is pulling together to keep the ER open and provide care to the population. That's what it's all about, providing local care to local patients," Dr. Vachon said.

On April 26, the MUHC delivered its long-awaited decision on the future of the Lachine Hospital. Since mid-February, the emergency unit has been accepting only patients who can come in on their own between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. Ambulances called to the area are always diverted to other hospitals.

In its decision, the MUHC confirmed the Lachine facility's status as a community hospital and promised a full 24/7 reopening of its emergency unit "within the next few months."

In a press release, AMOM also deplored the composition of the recovery task force promised by management. It criticized the fact that little room is given to "members committed to maintaining emergency activities."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on June 7, 2023.


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