Pressures mount on Pontiac Community Hospital

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Pressures are mounting
on the Pontiac Community Hospital (PCH). The flu bug is hitting the region hard and changes brought on by the CISSSO continue to impact services to patients.  

Pressures are mounting
on the Pontiac Community Hospital (PCH). The flu bug is hitting the region hard and changes brought on by the CISSSO continue to impact services to patients.  
This winter’s flu (H1N2) has strained health services in the Gatineau and Hull hospitals, overwhelming emergency rooms and causing a shortage of beds. Most affected are young children and chronically ill seniors. The CISSSO recommends people affected by the flu stay at home and rest unless medical care is essential.
Urban hospitals are working at up to 200% capacity, exhausting staff and facilities, resulting in the creation of emergency measures. Patients are being moved to other
facilities such as long term care centres and outlying hospitals; some staff will also be moved, as needed. The usual lists used in assigning overtime have been suspended allowing for volunteers to take work where needed, training sessions are postponed and non-essential surgeries delayed.  PCH is now prepared to receive patients from the city, with their placement first into the extended care facility.

Other changes at PCH

According to Benoit Gauthier, deputy CEO of the CISSSO, the Ministry of Health has recently authorized changes to hospital menus, to make patient’s food look and taste better.  Even though city hospitals will see the closure of some of their kitchen facilities, with a centralized distribution centre planned, PCH will retain its kitchen and new equipment will be installed to prepare the new menu choices; this change may create a few more jobs. Special dietary requirements will continue to be respected and the food prepared in the hospital will be served in the long term care facility next door.
Dr. Thomas O’Neill told the Journal that the CISSSO has requested PCH take on 200 more colonoscopy screenings this year, for patients within the region; however, inadequate patient preparation by non-local doctors, before the screening, has resulted in delays and cancellations of some procedures.
A recent breakdown of the CT scan machine, and an extended delay in getting it repaired sent PCH emergency patients to Gatineau. The contract changed without warning by CISSSO, from 24/7 in-house maintenance, to 9-5, Monday to Friday. After-hours breakdowns require special maintenance calls and extra charges will be incurred. Dr O’Neill stated a fully functioning CT scan machine is essential for diagnosing emergency trauma situations.
Dr. O’Neill added that protecting staff from overload and exhaustion is essential during the current flu epidemic, especially with more patients expected from the city; local workers have also been affected by the flu putting more strain on the hospital.