Montreal public health reinstating special hotline for sick children to keep them out of the ER

Montreal public health is bringing back a special hotline for families with sick children to get them speedy appointments with a health-care provider after the program came to an end.

The hotline was first introduced last fall to help keep emergency rooms for emergencies and avoid parents of sick children under 17 from bringing their kids to hospitals for non-urgent conditions. Although it was widely hailed as a success, it was always meant to be temporary and was no longer available as of March 31.

But following a spring-time surge in pediatric emergency room visits and a petition launched by mothers upset by long wait times in the ER, public health has decided to reopen the “One call, one appointment” number once again.

“The emergencies in the pediatric hospitals started again to inflate at the level that was unexpected,” said Francine Dupuis, associate CEO of the CIUSSS West-Central Montreal, in an interview.

The service will be up and running as of June 6 until a permanent, centralized version of the service for the whole Island of Montreal is established, which Dupuis said should happen by the fall.

“So, meanwhile, it’s better to put back the line and the pediatric line so that we do not incur the same situation that we had last September because when we opened the line, the pediatric emergencies were doing very poorly now,” she said.

When it launches next week, the priority for the next few months will be for parents whose children do not have a family doctor.

In May, CTV spoke to mothers who waited nine hours and even 16 hours in the ER to see a doctor after they said no other option for immediate care was available.

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