Pediatric Emergencies in Quebec in dire straits


The Montreal Children's Hospital puts forward solutions to improve access and timely care for children


Montreal, September 30, 2021 - In light of the current difficult situation in Quebec's pediatric facilities, the Montreal Children's Hospital would like to provide an update and outline solutions to continue to provide care and services to its patients.

The current worrying situation is caused by many factors. With the more frequent contacts between children, particularly with the start of the school year and the return of children to daycare after the summer, the circulation of viruses such as the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) has increased. In addition, the hospital network is facing a staff shortage, which has been exacerbated by the pandemic. The staff shortage is not just a regional issue, but a challenge for all institutions in Quebec.

The emergency of the Montreal Children's Hospital is currently experiencing a peak in visits. In September 2021, between 250 and 300 patients were seen there each day, which is twice as many as in September 2019, before the pandemic. This traffic is even greater than during the winter months, when 215 to 240 patients are typically seen daily.

Children who come to the emergency and need to see a doctor for a less severe condition are being redirected to the new designated pediatric clinics (see below). Despite the staffing shortage, beds closed in the summer were also reopened earlier this year to accommodate this large number of patients.

For an evaluation, we encourage parents to consult their family physician or visit their Family Medicine Group. If they are unable to see the child in the time required, parents can also make an appointment at a designated pediatric clinic.

"We welcome the creation of designated pediatric clinics to care for children who need to be seen quickly by a physician, but who do not need to rush to the emergency room, which is designed and equipped to save young people in critical condition," said Dr. Robert Barnes, Associate Director of Professional Services at the Montreal Children's Hospital.

If the situation requires it, parents can also go to hospitals in their area that offer pediatric emergency services. Most of them have beds for this specific clientele. It is important to reserve tertiary level care, such as that offered at the Montreal Children's Hospital, for patients requiring such care.


It is important to remember that, in the current context, the collaboration of parents is essential in order to limit the risks of spreading viruses in the school environment. If a child presents with symptoms similar to COVID-19, it is important to keep the child home for a 24-hour period, conduct a self-assessment of symptoms and follow recommendations, including getting tested.

Keeping symptomatic children at home will help limit the spread of other respiratory viruses in the school setting, thereby relieving congestion in the pediatric emergency room.

Designated Pediatric Clinics

Since September 6, designated pediatric clinics have also been deployed in certain regions.

This service offer, which complements and supports the front-line network, is intended for patients aged 0 to 16 years (excluding babies under three months of age who require a quick consultation with a physician or in the emergency) who:

· May or may not have symptoms associated with COVID-19;

· Are not registered with a family physician or primary care nurse practitioner (PCNP);

· Are registered but unable to be seen by their family physician or PCNP in a timely manner;

· Are referred from the emergency department if their health status permits.