Montreal Gazette

Dubé claims progress at Lakeshore General ER


In a heated political exchange in the National Assembly on Thursday, Health Minister Christian Dubé defended his government's handling of the crisis in the emergency department of Lakeshore General Hospital, claiming most of the problems have largely been solved.

Yet opposition Liberal health critic André Fortin and West Island MNA Gregory Kelley, also a Liberal, hammered Dubé on the Pointe-claire hospital, arguing he's done nothing to fix its troubled ER — the subject of three damning independen­t reports since 2022.

“We seriously need to talk about Lakeshore Hospital,” Fortin said. “What's happening at the hospital, at the Lakeshore ER, is serious. Everyone in Montreal knows it, everyone here knows it, but nothing is improving. In October 2022, there was a report saying that the emergency department was a time bomb, that there are preventabl­e deaths, and yet nothing has improved since.

“In February 2023, it was a monumental scandal, six patients died in preventabl­e circumstan­ces. We're talking about systemic negligence. Yet nothing has improved. A month later, the minister sent one of his top managers to the scene, she made 135 recommenda­tions, and nothing has improved since.

“And now we learn that Lakeshore has a higher rate of death in its emergency department than anywhere else in Montreal, and worse, it's on the rise,” Fortin continued. “At the Lakeshore, we have preventabl­e deaths, we have independen­t reports, we have front-page scandals, we know exactly what the problem is, we know exactly what the solutions are, and then nothing improves. What's it going to take for the minister to act?”

Kelley, MNA for Jacques-cartier, told the National Assembly that many West Island residents don't have access to a family doctor, and so they go to the Lakeshore as a last resort.

“There are many citizens who want to avoid Lakeshore ... but they have to see a doctor,” Kelley said. “Because right now on the West Island of Montreal, many citizens don't have access to a walk-in clinic, they don't have access to a family doctor, so they have to go to the Lakeshore to see a doctor.”

Dubé responded the Coalition Avenir Québec government is taking the Lakeshore seriously, noting that he paid a surprise visit to the ER on Jan. 20 and spoke with the new head nurse.

“I said the situation at Lakeshore was unacceptab­le,” Dubé conceded. “(But) we've taken action, we've sent managers, we've changed management. We're doing what needs to be done.”

“We're in the process of building an extension to the emergency room to provide more beds and stretchers,” he added. “We're doing the necessary work because the situation was unacceptab­le under the previous (Liberal) government, and we took action.”

The Gazette reported Wednesday that Quebec's ombudspers­on has decried the “excessive” use of physical restraints on patients in the Lakeshore ER. The ombudspers­on determined some nurses resorted to restraints “too quickly” to confine patients to beds in the short-staffed ER that often overflows with patients.

What's more, the Lakeshore ER — which reports among the most severe overcrowdi­ng in the province and among the longest stays for patients on stretchers — is also recording by far the highest ER death rate in Montreal, according to the latest figures by the Quebec Health Ministry.

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Christian Dubé

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