MONTREAL – The Quebec government is delaying non-essential activities in hospitals for the next two weeks in order to free all the doctors and nurses available to work full time in long-term care homes hard hit by COVID-19.
Prime Minister François Legault reiterated on Monday that the facilities, known as the CHSLD, are facing severe staff shortages due to the fact that nurses are sick or unable to work.
And with 4,038 people infected with COVID-19 in long-term care facilities and residences for seniors as of Monday, Legault said that homes need doctors to remedy the situation.
“My goal is to stabilize the situation in each affected residence,” said Legault at a COVID-19 conference. “This is why I asked that all available doctors work full time in residences for the next two weeks – it will help us save time and save the lives of our most vulnerable. “
Legault reassured patients with cancer or heart problems that their surgery would go as planned.
The province had already curtailed elective surgeries to free up about 6,000 hospital beds in anticipation of a COVID-19 outbreak that would result in many more hospitalizations. But the government was not counting on the growing number of cases in private and public nursing homes across the province.
“What we are doing now is asking these people – especially doctors, specialists – to come and work in our residences,” said Legault, who repeated the same mantra last week about the increase personal long-term care at home.
“Maybe I wasn’t clear enough last week when I said that, but these people, we need them full time,” added Legault. “I don’t want to start over every day with a new doctor in a new residence – I want them to come full-time for the next two weeks. “
The province has organized hotel rooms and is asking doctors and nurses outside the Montreal region to lend a hand in the province’s most affected region.
As more than 100 doctors began working in the homes, as well as 65 members of the Canadian Armed Forces on Monday, immediate help is still needed. There are reinforcements to come – Health Minister Danielle McCann noted that nearly 2,200 medical graduates have also signed up to help in long-term care facilities during the summer months.
Legault also ruled out reopening schools before May 4, the date the province had targeted as a possible return to class.
The Prime Minister has indicated that any decision to reopen the schools will take two weeks to prepare for the opening.
He added that waiting until the fall to reopen everything at once was not feasible.
“We don’t expect to reopen schools in the next two weeks, but after that, we don’t rule out any scenarios,” said Legault.
There are now 939 people who have died from COVID-19 in Quebec, health officials said on Monday, as confirmed cases in the province reached 19,319.
This is 62 more than the 877 deaths reported on Sunday. COVID-19 cases in Quebec increased by 962 compared to 18,357 announced the previous day.
On Monday, 1,169 people were treated for COVID-19 in hospitals in Quebec, up 67 from the 1,102 reported on Sunday. Of those hospitalized, 198 are in intensive care, 15 more than the 183 reported 24 hours earlier.
Dr. Horacio Arruda, director of public health for Quebec, noted that the average length of stay in intensive care was approximately five days and that in approximately 86% of cases, patients recovered or could leave intensive care.
In Quebec, 2,971 people were waiting for the results of the COVID-19 test on Monday, up 66 from the 2,905 reported on Sunday.
The number of people in Quebec who recovered from COVID-19 on Monday was 3,847, up 292 from the 3,555 recoveries reported the day before.
With 8,964 confirmed cases, Montreal remains the most affected region in Quebec; you can see a complete regional distribution of COVID-19 in Quebec on this map.