Two hospitals in a rural part of western Quebec are extending an already two-year wait to replace imaging equipment, which could put stroke patients at higher risk, says a family doctor in Shawville, Ky. .
Speaking to Radio-Canada, Dr. Pascal Croteau said he has become concerned about stroke patients since the CT scanner at the Pontiac Hospital in Shawville was closed for repairs for a week in December 2021.
That shutdown meant that patients requiring immediate CT scans were sent to Hull Hospital in Gatineau, Ky., an hour away, at a critical time when a brain scan is desperately needed within three hours of a stroke. Croteau said.
“We have a short window to react after a stroke,” said Croteau in French. “Without a CT scan to know whether there is bleeding or not, we cannot determine whether we should be administering drugs to destroy the blood clot.”
Croteau says patients sent to Hull are taken there in an ambulance, meaning there are fewer ambulances available in an already poorly serviced community.
Radiologist says equipment failure is happening too often
According to the area’s health agency, the closure of Shawville’s CT scanner in December 2021 was not the only occasion when patients in the rural outpost were diverted to Gatineau for imaging. Outouis Integrated Health and Social Services Center (CISS).
Since January 2021, Pontiac Hospital’s CT scanner has been shut down for repairs three times, while the CT scanner at Maniwaki Hospital in Maniwaki, Ky., has had six repairs, the agency said, adding that the average shutdown lasts 24 hours. .
“If it happens once or twice a year, it’s not so dangerous,” said Dr. Magali Dubey, president of the Association of Radiologists of Quebec. “But six is too many times.”
three years delay
CT scanners at both Pontiac and Maniwaki hospitals were purchased in 2010 and were to be replaced after 10 years of service as standard practice.
But a number of circumstances have thrown a wrench in the replacement process, said Zied Ouchetti, deputy director of clinical services with CISSS.
In 2021, a strategic decision was made to prioritize replacing scanners at Hull Hospital, which has a trauma centre, and an attempt was made to limit the number of scanners in the area that would be simultaneously offline, Ouchetti said. Told.
He said the COVID-19 pandemic had delayed logistics, and the provincial government only approved new scanners for Pontiac and Maniwaki in 2021.
“We can extend the life of the scanners a little bit, depending on how much they are used,” he said in French.
Ouchetti said the results of a request for tender for the new scanner should be known in October 2022, with installation to follow three to six months later.
But the news only reinforces Croteau’s sentiments about how residents of western Quebec are treated outside of Gatineau.
“For us people in rural areas … we are often poor cousins and forgotten in the health system,” he said in French.
“We deserve services, not lack of services.”