Quebec premier pleads for doctors to help nursing homes ravaged by coronavirus

Quebec’s Premier, François Legault asked doctors on Wednesday to “come and help in care home facilities” as the province faces a shortage in nurses at care home facilities. He said he doesn't wish to “insult doctors when asking them to do nurses work, except we don’t have anybody else.”

The Quebec government is once again calling for reinforcements in seniors’ residences as the coronavirus health crisis takes hold in the province’s nursing homes.

Premier François Legault specifically appealed to medical specialists and family physicians on Wednesday to lend a helping hand to nurses and orderlies in hard-hit and short-staffed CHSLDs.

“I know that you are overqualified to do this work but I have no other choice,” he said. “So I need physicians to come in our residences to help the nurses.”

There are 52 new deaths attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing the province’s total to 487 fatalities.

READ MORE: Quebec premier calls for help to staff nursing homes as coronavirus death toll climbs

The tally of infections is also still on the rise with 14,860 confirmed cases across the province. There are 984 people in hospital and 218 of them are in intensive care.

The plea for doctors comes as public CHSLDs are missing more than 1,200 staff members due to illness or because they are unwilling to work for fear of being infected, according to Legault.

“We need you,” said Legault.

Health Minister Danielle McCann echoed the plea, comparing it to a humanitarian mission.

“We need them to come and help us, help the nurses, help the orderlies, help the whole team in those long-term care facilities,” she said. “This is the humanitarian mission we have now in Quebec.”

READ MORE: Montreal nurse with COVID-19 symptoms worked at nursing home where at least 30 residents died

The plea comes after the government asked teachers and professionals in the health-care field to help in nursing homes grappling with outbreaks on Tuesday.

However, the president of the medical specialists federation in Quebec (FMSQ) said she was taken aback by Legault’s comments. Dr. Diane Francoeur took to social media to say they have offered their help since last week.

“We will be where we are needed,” she said in a tweet. “I am surprised by your remarks.”

Military assistance possible

When it comes to military assistance, Legault said he is open to “qualified personnel” coming to help in nursing homes but he is waiting to know how many army staffers could be sent.

However, he said the province needs at least 2,000 people to help in nursing homes amid the crisis.

“What I asked is how many they could send us from the army who have qualifications in health,” he said.

Earlier on Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that discussions between the federal and provincial governments over army assistance is ongoing.

However, he said that his government has responded to Quebec’s requests for military assistance in the Nunavik and the Lower North Shore regions.

“We will respond to any request they ask of us, whatever that might be,” said Trudeau.

The provincial government has identified at least 41 facilities that require special attention due to a high number of COVID-19 cases.

With files from the Canadian Press

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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