Overcrowding at CHU Sainte-Justine and The Montreal Children's Hospital Emergency Rooms

Press release
For immediate release

Most children suffering from fever, mild flu symptoms and gastroenteritis
Montréal, Tuesday, December 20, 2011 – As the holiday season kicks off, CHU Sainte-Justine (CHUSJ) and The Montreal Children’s Hospital (MCH) of the McGill University Health Centre are seeing a spike in visits to their respective Emergency Departments, where most of the young patients are suffering from mild flu symptoms, gastroenteritis and fever. This increase in visits is causing a strain on emergency services, leading to longer wait times, especially for non-urgent cases (categories 4 and 5); as a result, patients whose condition is assessed as non-urgent during triage are having to wait several hours before seeing a doctor.
We would like to remind parents that the emergency department is reserved for urgent care. Mild flu symptoms, fever and gastroenteritis, which generally last 3-5 days, should be treated at home. Our city’s pediatric emergency departments each have the capacity to treat 180 children per day; in the past two weeks, however, this number has climbed to between 230 and 280 children per day at both hospitals.
“Children requiring urgent care (categories 1, 2 and 3) are treated first. Any patient who comes to the Emergency department with a cold, flu or gastro can expect to wait several hours before seeing a doctor,” said Dr. Harley Eisman, Medical Director of the MCH Emergency Department. For his part, Dr. Benoît Bailey, Chief of the CHU Sainte-Justine Emergency Department, emphasized: “It’s important that parents be prepared for the flu season by knowing how to keep their kids healthy, how to treat minor injuries and ailments at home, and when to see a doctor or go to the emergency department.”
The emergency department should be reserved for children who are seriously sick or injured. We recommend a trip to the emergency in the following cases:
  • Your child is having trouble breathing (for example, he is breathing faster than normal; he is pale; his lips turn white or blue; he is coughing non-stop, choking or breathing irregularly).
  • Your child is hurt and may have a broken bone or need stitches.
  • Your child hurt himself and is now vomiting.
  • Your infant (under three months old) has a fever over 38°C or 100.4°F.
  • Your child is feverish and drowsy, and you are having trouble waking him up.
  • Your child has a rash and his skin doesn’t turn white if you press on it.
  • Your child is vomiting and has diarrhea, is not producing tears, has a very dry mouth and has not urinated more than 2-3 times in the last 24 hours.
Parents are urged to consult their pediatrician or family doctor for anything other than a true emergency (as described above). If the latter are not available, families can certainly go to their local CLSC or a walk-in clinic. For the locations of these clinics or to speak to a nurse 24/7 about your child’s medical condition, call Info-Santé at 8-1-1.
For the operating hours of network clinics and Montréal-area Health and Social Service Centres, go to the Agence de la santé et des services sociaux de Montréal website at: santemontreal.qc.ca/fr/sante_quartier/horaire.html.
The CHU Sainte-Justine and The Montreal Children’s Hospital websites also contain useful information to help parents assess their child’s health condition: http://www.chu-sainte-justine.org/ and www.thechildren.com.

Flu shot campaigns are still underway; for more information, go to infogrippe.gouv.qc.ca.


 Source: CHU Sainte-Justine
Information: Mélanie Dallaire
Senior media relations consultant
CHU Sainte-Justine
Lisa Dutton
Manager, Public Relations and Communications
Montreal Children’s Hospital
McGill University Health Centre
About CHU Sainte-Justine
The CHU Sainte-Justine is the largest mother-child centre in Canada and one of the four largest pediatric hospitals in North America. Affiliated with the Réseau universitaire intégré de santé de l'Université de Montréal (RUIS), it has 5,153 employees, including 1,392 nurses and auxiliary nurses, and 1,036 healthcare professionals, 510 doctors, dentists and pharmacists, 196 researchers, 300 volunteers, and 4,000 interns and medical students. The CHUSJ has 489 beds, including 40 at the Centre de réadaptation Marie Enfant, the only exclusively pediatric rehabilitation centre in Québec. The World Health Organization has recognized the CHU Sainte-Justine as a “Health Promoting Hospital” http://www.chu-sainte-justine.org/.
About the Montreal Children’s Hospital
The Montreal Children’s Hospital (MCH) is the pediatric teaching hospital of the McGill University Health Centre and is affiliated with McGill University. The MCH is a leader in providing a broad spectrum of highly specialized care to newborns, children, and adolescents from across Quebec. Our areas of medical expertise include programs in brain development/behaviour, cardiovascular sciences, critical care, medical genetics and oncology, tertiary medical and surgical services, and trauma care. Fully bilingual, the hospital also promotes multiculturalism and serves an increasingly diverse community in more than 50 languages. The Montreal Children’s Hospital sets itself apart with its team approach to innovative patient care. Our health professionals and staff are dedicated to ensuring children and their families receive exceptional health care in a friendly and supportive environment. www.thechildren.com