By Alex Roslin
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
If you’ve got a health emergency and you go to the Brome-Missisquoi-Perkins Hospital in Cowansville, get ready for one of the longest waits of any hospital in Quebec.
A survey has found that the BMP Hospital has the worst record of any small hospital in the province in terms of emergency-room wait times.
And the hospital’s wait times are only getting worse, with its overall grade dropping from a D to an E+ since the previous survey.
Emergency patients at the hospital wait an average of almost 25 hours before finally getting a hospital bed, being transferred to another institution or getting discharged, according to the province-wide annual survey by the newspaper La Presse.
The Quebec average is 17.5 hours. The province says it wants to reduce that average to 12 hours.
Also, 19 percent of BMP patients wind up waiting 48 hours or more—compared to a provincial average of 7.2 percent.
The culprit, say hospital workers, is a chronic lack of nurses and beds. “The lack of nurses certainly has an impact. We’ve said that for a long time,” says Carole Guillette, president of the local nurses’ union.
“The staff are really overworked, especially in the evenings. Patients are waiting in the corridors and in chairs. It’s clear there are not enough beds.”
And don’t look to the BMP Hospital’s recent expansion to solve the problems. It won’t add a single new bed to the facility, Guillette says.
In fact, since Guillette started working at the hospital in 1982, she says it has actually reduced its number of beds from 100 to less than 80. What’s more, the number of administrative staff has increased while the number of nurses has remained the same. Nurses’ caseloads have also become heavier and more complex with medical advances and the aging population.
BMP Hospital officials didn’t respond to several calls requesting comment for this story.
In an interview with another newspaper, Dr. Christian Léger, the hospital’s director of medical affairs, suggested that part of the problem is the region’s high portion of seniors.
But a similarly high ratio of seniors in Magog didn’t stop that city’s Memphrémagog Hospital Centre from having the second-best emergency wait time in Quebec.
In fact, the Magog hospital’s record is one of the few pieces of good news in the survey.
If you have the time to drive to Magog, your emergency wait time could be less than a third of your wait in Cowansville—just 7.5 hours.
And only 0.7 percent of emergency patients in Magog wait more than 48 hours. That’s a tiny fraction of the number in Cowansville.