Strong outbreak of COVID-19 in a hospital in Quebec

The OPTILAB reform has contributed to worsening the outbreak of COVID-19 at the University Institute of Cardiology and Pneumology of Quebec (IUCPQ), according to doctors who urge the Minister of Health Christian Dubé to give them back autonomy in laboratory testing.

“This crisis brings to light the systemic incapacity brought about in 2017 by the OPTILAB centralization,” wrote the representative of the hospital’s doctors in a letter to the minister whose The duty got copy.

The IUCPQ is preparing to postpone all of its non-urgent appointments to protect patients from the COVID-19 outbreak raging within its walls. This is the first hospital in Quebec to have to do so since the start of the second wave of the pandemic.

About 60 people – employees and patients – have received a positive diagnosis within the establishment, in almost all departments. The 350-bed hospital has more than 3,000 employees in total.

From what doctors told the Duty, the centralization of laboratories prevented the IUCPQ from massively screening its staff when the first cases of COVID-19 appeared in the establishment.

“We no longer have the means to test as widely as we would like our employees, our patients, to avoid the spread of the disease because the products necessary for the tests are retained by OPTILAB, deplores Dr.r Mathieu Simon, head of intensive care at the establishment formerly known as the Laval Hospital. I’m not saying the outbreak we are in wouldn’t have happened [sans OPTILAB], but we could have acted more effectively if we had more freedom. “

“We have repeatedly deplored this loss of autonomy for a subspecialized center like ours,” deplores the president of the establishment’s Council of Physicians, Dentists and Pharmacists (CMDP) in her letter, Marie-Helene The White.

“We denounce a mode of operation which is proving, in the context of the current pandemic, dangerously ineffective. IUCPQ-UL needs rapid and sufficient screening tests. It is literally a vital question “

OPTILAB is a reform launched in 2017 by the Couillard government to centralize Quebec’s medical biology laboratories. She ensured that rather than being analyzed in every hospital, samples are now sent and processed in major centers.

Thus, at present, only 11 laboratories are authorized to analyze tests for COVID-19 in Quebec, that is, one per region – the “network” laboratories as well as the laboratories of the Directorate of Public Health. Laboratories like that of the IUCPQ have the status of “associated” laboratories and are controlled by network laboratories.

“After three years of centralizing decisions, this acclaimed flagship of laboratory medicine is now suffering from unacceptable delays in diagnosis, care and treatment of a clientele whose survival often depends on the speed of analysis », Also indicates the Dr The White in his letter.

The IUCPQ is one of the establishments accredited to receive patients with COVID-19. During the first wave, there had been no contamination inside the hospital.

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