Paramedics arrive in Nunavik to support short-staffed health centres
Hudson Bay health-care crisis getting ‘worse and worse,’ head of union says
Five paramedics from the south arrived in Puvirnituq this week to provide assistance to short-staffed health centres in Nunavik’s Hudson Bay communities.
It’s not clear yet what their tasks will be, but they are currently on “observation” there after arriving Monday, said Cyril Gabreau, president of the Hudson Bay Nurses and Healthcare Professionals Northern Union.
Last month, Gabreau — who lives and works in Salluit as a nurse – wrote an open letter calling on the Quebec government to provide more support to the region’s overworked health-care workers, and asking if it’s possible for the military to step in to lend a hand.
“The situation is getting worse and worse,” Gabreau said Friday in an interview with Nunatsiaq News.
In the past month, staff shortages have forced clinics in communities all over the region to have shutdown periods. Staff are burnt out from the extended working hours and some have expressed their intention to quit.
“The extended hours our nurses are doing are just increasing because there’s almost no backup of people coming in,” Gabreau said.
“There’s no sustainable actions that have been put in place, so it’s really worrying, that mindset of not knowing where it’s going.”
According to Gabreau, Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé spent part of Friday in Puvirnituq meeting with health-care workers.
He said he’s glad the minister is visiting, but wants to see solutions come out of the meetings.
“It’s not a three-hour meeting that’s going to change things. It’s the action that’s going to be taken afterwards that’s going to help and provide change along the way,” Gabreau said.
The entire province is facing a health-care workforce shortage, said Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services spokesperson Kathleen Poulin, but an “exhaustive range” of solutions is being discussed.
“Unfortunately, with the personnel shortage affecting all of Quebec, the agencies are no longer able to meet the demand,” Poulin wrote in an email to Nunatsiaq News.
“[Appeals] have been launched with several other entities and resources.”
While work is being done to address nurses’ working conditions, Poulin asked the public to show some understanding if they need to seek care from their local nursing station, as wait times continue to be long.
“These circumstances are stressful but in no way justify acts of harassment, violence or disrespect,” she said.
“Doing your best to stay calm and answer the questions asked strongly [accelerates] the arrival of emergency services.”