“We are very close to a point of no return,” says Dubé of Quebec hospitals

The province is struggling to find another 1,000 health personnel to send to hospitals as the number of COVID-19 admissions continues to rise.

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With hundreds more COVID-19 patients expected to be admitted to hospitals in Quebec this week, health experts continue to say the province needs to do more to slow the spread of the virus.

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at a press conference on Tuesday Health Minister Christian Dubé said Quebec is seeking 1,000 health workers to send to hospitals as they are pushed to a breaking point with the ongoing spread of the Omicron variant.

“The coming weekend is going to be the hardest,” Dubé said Tuesday, as the number of hospitalizations for COVID-19 reached 2,742 in Quebec, including 255 in intensive care.

While Dubé suspects that about half of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Quebec (outside of intensive care) have been admitted for reasons other than the virus (which have subsequently tested positive), he said forecasts suggest hospitalizations for COVID-19 may be specific. 2500 could reach in the coming days.

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“We are very close, within a week, to reach a level that is very difficult,” said Dubé, explaining that another 1,000 hospitalizations would raise the situation to the highest alert level, causing unmanageable disruptions. “We are very close to a point of no return.”

for dr. Donald Vinh, an infectious disease specialist and medical microbiologist at McGill University Health Center, distinguishing between patients hospitalized for COVID and patients hospitalized with COVID is “a bit of a distraction.”

“You still need the same number of dedicated rooms, staff and equipment,” he said. “It doesn’t matter whether the virus is with COVID or despite COVID – the person has COVID and may be transmissible to other people, including a threat to the health workers. … You don’t want a nurse taking care of a COVID positive patient and then going to a little old lady who doesn’t have COVID and taking care of her because we know that’s what led to COVID in the other waves.

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In the MUHC, the tension of COVID-19 can be felt throughout the building. On Tuesday, Vinh said he was on his way to a meeting to discuss the rationing of care in his work area.

“We’re at that point,” he said.

In Vinh’s department, rationing care means deciding which COVID-positive immunocompromised patients who do not respond well to vaccines will receive preventive treatment with monoclonal antibodies to prevent the virus from progressing to serious or life-threatening, he said.

“We can catch them early and give them to them, but of course we don’t have enough to do that for everyone,” said Vinh, explaining that hospitals receive about 10-20 doses a week and that the MUHC has eight in the past two days. only. “How do we handle that? These are the kind of conversations we have.”

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While the province bases its pandemic response on statistics of hospital admissions and intensive care numbers, treatments like the one Vinh offers to immunocompromised patients are taking place before those cases require a hospital bed.

“There are both upstream and downstream problems outside of hospitalizations,” he said. “Hospitalizations are a current metric that the government is targeting, understandably, because that’s the hole in the ship right now. Except the other problems in the ship are that the wood is rotting and there’s no dock in sight.”

Quebec’s interim public health director, Dr. Luc Boileau – who until now headed the Institut national d’excellence en santé et services sociaux (INESSS) – said he expects the peak of the fifth wave to arrive in Quebec soon, but he can’t confirm it has. just now.

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“We really hope we’ll see a slowdown in transmission soon,” he said.

But with the approaching back to school for students and to work for their teachers, said Dr. André Veillette, an immunologist at the Montreal Clinical Research Institute, said it may take longer than expected to reach the peak.

“The bottom line is we don’t know,” he said. “I think (the return to school and work) will have effects. They may not be immediate, they may last a few weeks. That is why we have to do as much as possible now.”

For Veillette, greater emphasis should be placed on the use of N95 masks, physical distancing, rapid testing, better ventilation and giving adult Quebecers and children their second dose of boosters as soon as possible.

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“The risk is that it will take until March for everyone over 18 to be vaccinated, by which time the damage from this wave will already be done,” he said. “I think if we want to prevent people from getting sick, we need to vaccinate them as soon as possible. It should have happened in November, even October.”

Following Veillette, Vinh called for similar measures and a more consistent approach to dealing with the Quebec pandemic.

“We can’t have restrictive restrictions and curfews, just inconsistent messages about masks, inconsistent messages about the quality of masks needed, no consideration of the need for improved ventilation, a delayed and ongoing staggering rollout of third doses,” Vinh said. “On the one hand, the message is that everyone is getting your dose, on the other, everyone is not getting your dose yet.”

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kthomas@postmedia.com

twitter.com/katelynthomas

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