The Jewish General hospital is preparing for a 'wave' of COVID-19 patients, said their medical staff, as the outbreak to hit Montreal.
Two patients with COVID-19 are being treated at the Côte-des-Neiges hospital in negative-pressure rooms to prevent the spreading coronavirus, according to the Montreal Gazette. Information on the current status of those patients' health was not publicly disclosed.
There are 13 cases of confirmed coronavirus in Quebec as of time of writing. Officials at the Jewish General have asked retired nurses and those who are on leave to volunteer to answer the 811 Info-Santé medical hotline. Info-Santé received more than 16,000 phone calls on Wednesday from worried members of the public, making for very long wait times.
Health officials urge anyone who might have the flu-like symptoms associated with COVID-19 to call the 811 medical hotline. This is especially for those who have symptoms and have recently returned from travelling abroad, or have had close-contact with someone who has. The hotline will direct them to a designated clinic that will screen exclusively for coronavirus.
"It’s like we are in a situation of war,” said Francois Dupuis, the associate director general of Montreal’s Centre-West health authority.
Currently, there is just one designated screening clinic in Montreal, at the former Hôtel-Dieu hospital. Dupuis announced plans to open two more COVID-19 clinics designated to screening Montreal: one on the West Island and one in the east end. In addition to those, a clinic in Laval is set to open on Monday, and one at the South Shore in Greenfield Park.
The objective behind the screening clinics is to relieve pressure on hospitals in an effort to reduce the transmission of COVID-19.
The Jewish General is now taking an inventory of respirator machines in its facilities. Should patients develop severe complications from the virus the machines will be used to help patients breathe, according to Dr. Louise Miner, director of professional services.
The Jewish General has respirators in each of its 10 intensive-care rooms and also in all their operating rooms.
The Quebec Health Ministry has ordered every hospital in Quebec to undergo a similar inventory check, suggesting that they be proactive in the event of an outbreak like those in China, Iran or Italy.
The Jewish General is performing training simulations and will have bed capacity for up to 87 COVID-19 patients. Dupuis and Miner still fear the Jewish General will likely be overwhelmed in the event of widespread transmission.
Miner suggested that other hospitals in Montreal, such as the superhospital of the McGill University Health Centre, will be expected to “chip in” should the outbreak become severe.