By Gordon Lambie
The CIUSSS de l’Estrie – CHUS, the regional healthcare authority for the Estrie administrative region, announced on Tuesday that the emergency departments in Windsor and Coaticook will be subject to changes in service as of the beginning of next week to help offset the impacts of staffing shortages. In Windsor the space will be transitioned from an emergency department to a walk-in clinic, with ambulance service re-routed to Sherbrooke, while in Coaticook the ER will be closed evenings and at night until further notice.
The changes planned for the Windsor ER take effect October 18. The new clinic will be open 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and although billed as walk-in, those interested in seeing a doctor will have to call in advance to make a same-day appointment. No phone number is yet available.
The changes in Coaticook will be familiar to anyone who attempted to use the ER in the month of August or again briefly in September. The service will be closed from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. starting October 19. Unlike the previous closures, however, there is not a plan to have an ambulance stationed in the hospital parking lot beyond the first week of this change.
According to Chantal Gariepy, the Director of General Services for the CIUSSS, the changes have to do with pre-existing staffing shortages and are not the initial steps of the much-awaited contingency plan for how the system will be reorganized after thousands of local staff are suspended on Friday for not being fully vaccinated. There is no set timeline for either service to re-start as normal at this point in time.
Asked about the implications of Friday’s vaccination deadline on these and other possible changes to the healthcare system, Gariepy deferred to the CIUSSS communications department. A representative of that department simply said that more details on the local plan will be made available ‘over the course of the week’ leading up to Friday, presumably referring to one of the two days that remain before the deadline arrives.
Speaking at a press conference in the Outaouais region, Health Minister Christian Dubé similarly referred to questions about when Quebecers might know the details about the province’s contingency plan for the medical system as ‘premature,’ even as he acknowledged that the system will have to account for thousands of vacancies as a result of the suspensions.
The Province of Quebec reported 409 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the total number of people infected to 416,676 with 4,907 active cases.
There were two new deaths, for a total of 11,422 since the start of the pandemic, and 291 hospitalizations, an overall increase of only one compared to the previous day despite 17 new admissions. Of that total, 72 people were in intensive care, a decrease of six compared to the previous day.
The Eastern Townships reported 100 new cases over the period since last Friday, but the number of active cases in the region dropped to 233. Part of that drop included a significant decrease in the Des Sources region, where the number of active cases was nearly halved over the weekend, going from 50 to 29.
The region recorded one new death in an unidentified private seniors’ home, bringing the total since the start of the pandemic to 366.
There were nine people in hospital in the Townships due to Covid, two of whom were in intensive care.
Vaccination in the Eastern Townships reached 86 per cent for a first dose and 83.3 per cent for the second, with 92.6 per cent of healthcare workers in the region being fully vaccinated.
Across Quebec, 90 per cent of those 12 and up have received a first dose and 85 per cent have received a second.