Quebec appoints physician to reduce
long ER waits
QUEBEC CITY – Public
dissatisfaction with long wait times in Quebec’s emergency rooms has led
provincial Health Minister Philippe Couillard (pictured here) to appoint
a Quebec City physician as head of a team that will attempt to break the
logjams and speed up patient care in the ERs.
Couillard made the announcement about the new appointment outside the
emergency room of Quebec City’s Centre hospitalier de l’Université
Laval, a hospital with one of the shortest wait times in the province.
Dr. Pierre Savard, a 28-year veteran of the emergency room system, will
start the new job Sept. 1. Couillard said Savard will keep his job as
the head of the CHUL emergency room because he wants him to stay in
touch with the troops.
But neither was promising an overnight miracle to what is an old problem
that many governments have tried to fix.
In May, the PQ revealed that the average ER wait in Quebec – 16 hours –
is the same as it was five years ago, when the Liberals took power
promising to eliminate it.
The Health Department’s objective is to bring that number down to 12
hours by 2010. Hospitals in the Quebec City region have largely attained
the target, while those in Montreal lag way behind. The average wait,
for example, at Maisonneuve-Rosemont hospital in 2007-2008 was 35.63
The average wait on the island of Montreal is 20 hours.
“Dr. Savard is not there to play police in the emergencies or go and
punish the under-performing emergencies but rather draw on good
situations like the one here at the CHUL and spread them through the
network,” Couillard said.
Savard said there is not one factor but rather a series of factors to
“We need to draw inspiration from the good situations and import the
good practices,” he said. “We are going to put ourselves in solution
But the critics were not buying the government’s pitch. Action
démocratique health critic Eric Caire said creating a new department and
naming someone like Savard will not add more nurses and doctors to the