Legault ups ­recruitment pitch for health ­professionals

By Matthew McCully

Quebec Premier Francois Legault is calling on the “sense of duty” of doctors in the province to help fill the labour shortage in CHSLDs during the COVID-19 pandemic. He is asking general practitioners as well as surgeons and specialists, currently off work because of the postponement of elective surgeries, to do the jobs of PABs and nurses. According to Legault, there are currently 1,382 absences from public CHSLDs. With private facilities added to that, he said there are around 2,000 positions to fill. “We’re not missing doctors,” Legault clarified. “We’re missing PABs and nurses.”
“We’re looking for them to come do nursing work. They won’t be mopping floors,” he insisted. Health Minister Danielle McCann said Quebec doctors should consider the gesture a humanitarian mission.
During Legault’s briefing, reporters questioned the plea for doctors when aid was offered from Canadian military personnel with medical training, and health professionals had offered their services through the COVID-19 I ­contribute website (https://jecontribuecovid19.gouv.qc.ca/Inscription.aspx) but received no reply.
Legault said he was in discussions with the federal government for military medical aid, but nothing was confirmed yet. Regarding the delay to enlist to help, Minister McCann said the province is working as quickly as possible to process the information. “There’s hardly any red tape,” McCann said, “we’re doing in a few days what we were doing before in a couple of months.”
Reporters also asked about remuneration, should highly trained doctors and specialists step in to help at CHSLDs. Legault, stressing that it is an emergency situation, confirmed they would receive pay consistent with their level of training while working alongside nurses and PABS doing the same job.
One reporter said that 30, 000 surgeries had been postponed and by St. Jean that number could be up to 50,000, and asked if a very different health crisis were on the horizon when operating rooms re-open. McCann said essential surgeries are still taking place, and what can be done is being done, but right now there is a need to conserve medications, especially those used for sedation during surgeries, so playing catchup is not an option at the moment. “We have to be careful,” she said.
When asked about summer sports leagues, Legault said it was too soon to tell what would happen.
When asked about scenarios for schools and businesses, Legault said right now the province is working with the CNESST, the province’s work safety board, to develop a plan so that small businesses could begin to re-open but maintain social distancing protocols. “It’s too soon for scenarios in schools,” Legault said.
Quebec now has 14,860 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19, up 612 from the day before. Of those, 737 are in the Estrie region.
The death toll in the province has risen to 487, with 52 in the last day.
There are 984 COVID-19-related hospitalizations, up 48. The number of patients in intensive care dropped by 12 to 218.
According to the Quebec Public Health Institute’s website there are 2,491 confirmed recoveries from COVID-19.

Published in the Thursday, April 16 edition of The Record.



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