Brownstein: Montreal children’s emergency room tries to provide comfort at Christmas

“We are all very in tune with how difficult it is for families to be there at Christmas,” says Medical Director Laurie Plotnick, who once again volunteered to work on December 25.

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Dr. Laurie Plotnick has pulled out the straw again. He will be working in the emergency room at Montreal Children’s Hospital on Christmas Day. In fact, Plotnick, the emergency department’s medical director, volunteered again for this mission.

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There are more fun ways to get into vacation mode than spending it with patients and their parents who would rather be anywhere but there, but Plotnick makes the most of it, as does the ER personnel.

Yes, it is the day the ER is decked out with all sorts of Christmas decorations, and when Plotnick and his colleagues don Santa or elf costumes. And while space is at a premium, a Christmas sleigh manages to slide through the doors with tons of little gifts to distribute to everyone in the room.

“We are truly very fortunate that the community is so generous in donating gifts for all the children,” says Plotnick. “We are all very in tune with how difficult it is for families to be there at Christmas, so we do our best to cheer them up.

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“We are a pretty close-knit group. As a staff, we do a lot of teamwork for those who are there during the holidays, because if we support and encourage each other, that translates into being there with the children and their families. “

One might assume that there would be little action on Christmas Day in the hospital emergency room. But one would assume wrong. In recent years, nearly 300 sick children, with families in tow, showed up on December 25 for various reasons. The situation is compounded by the fact that children’s doctors, if they have one, are generally not available on Christmas Day, and most clinics are also closed.

“We try to get the kids home as quickly as possible, but it’s a very busy time,” says Plotnick. “Winter in general is always busy in the emergency department.”

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And now there’s the added crush on children with COVID.

“There is a pattern on Christmas Day. It starts off quietly earlier in the morning, and as the day progresses, we get busier, ”says Plotnick. “And obviously, if the child is sick, families don’t care about Christmas.”

The most common reasons for visits are colds, gastroenteritis, pneumonia, fevers, cuts, skin rashes, ingestion of unknown substances, injuries and, lately, a lot of bronchiolitis.

“It may not be a serious illness or injury, but if parents are concerned, we tell them to come. Fortunately, many children are well enough to go home. But we also see a good proportion of children who are sick enough and have to stay in the hospital. “

But Plotnick is quick to point out that certain ailments don’t require a visit to the hospital.

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“Unless it has persisted for more than three days or if the child has been unusually sleepy or has a stiff neck, fever itself for a child over 18 months is not a reason to be nervous or to go to the department. emergency room, “she says.” If the child is experiencing earache at midnight, then they certainly don’t have to rush here. The family can administer some pain relievers and can see a healthcare professional the next day or the next day. .

“On the other hand, if the child has trouble breathing, has vomiting or diarrhea and cannot retain anything or if he is not himself, he has to come. And of course injuries, like if the child hits his head and loses consciousness and is confused, those are the types of symptoms that occur in the hospital.

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Plotnick also notes that parents in Montreal are fortunate to have the One Call, One Appointment initiative with a phone number to get appointments that don’t require a visit to the emergency department.

This also outweighs the long wait times in the emergency room.

“We feel very bad about the waits, but we have to prioritize children in terms of severity, so there is a long wait for most families,” says Plotnick, who recommends that parents bring medications and other necessities. of their children, from diapers. to food to toys.

“The most important thing is to remind parents to bring chargers for their phones and electronic devices. Without them, they feel very frustrated because they didn’t wait that long. “

Plotnick gets to yell on New Years Eve away from the ER, if he so chooses. She could use the break.

For information on emergency services at Montreal Children’s Hospital, and how to donate gifts and toys, see thechildren.com. For A call, a date, call 514-890-6111.

[email protected]

twitter.com/billbrownstein

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Reference-montrealgazette.com

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