The Reorganization Project for Optilab Medical Laboratories has been failing since its official launch on April 1st. These are reflected in many departments at Granby Hospital, including cytology and pathology, struggling with a lack of staff.
The situation began to become more critical a few months ago after the retirement of a member of the cytology department team at Granby Hospital. The group was subsequently cut by two additional people: one of them is on maternity leave, the other is on sick leave.
“It’s hard enough to have enough staff in the labs. With Optilab, those who retire are not replaced. That’s what happened in Granby. That made the [analyzes] accumulate quickly, “lamented Emmanuel Breton, director of the Alliance of Professional and Technical Personnel in Health and Social Services (APTS) in Estrie.
As early as May, the situation became untenable. Nearly 8000 analyzes were pending. It should be noted that the PAP test, linked to cytology, also known as smear, consists of detecting alterations in the cells of the cervix, inter alia for the prevention of this form of cancer.
To resolve the impasse, the leaders of the Integrated University Health and Social Services Center (CIUSSS) of Estrie, which oversees the Granby Hospital, decided to send some 6,000 specimens to Sherbrooke (CHUS). Thousands more went to a private Ontario lab, Breton said. This was corroborated by Dr. Edmond Rizcallah, director of the pathology department of the CIUSSS of Estrie. “The people of Granby were very late when they asked us to help them. We accepted 5962 blades from home. For the additional 2000, it was felt that taking them would exceed the recommended time for patient safety. So we put our hands in the pocket, “said the specialist. Cost of the operation: $ 24,220.
Why have you opted for a laboratory outside Quebec? “My manager contacted several labs here, but they were all overworked. We only had this alternative, “said Dr. Rizcallah.
On the tightrope
Emmanuel Breton is of the opinion that the effects of Optilab cashed so far by the staff of the laboratories of the Granby Hospital Center (CHG) are only “the tip of the iceberg”.
“Everyone is overworked in the labs. There is work everywhere not to know what to do with it. It’s nonsense to impose cuts among that. […] In Granby, for example, instead of fixing the problem by hiring staff, even if only part-time, we are working with Optilab. And what is most deplorable is that patients pay the price for all these bad decisions, “he said.
Dr. Rizcallah conceded that the situation is not rosy in the Estrie laboratories, especially at the CHG. “We do not even know if the government will force us to repatriate all analyzes [of the territory] to Sherbrooke. […] This bazaar of Optilab, we did not choose it. We are caught in this like everyone else. […] In the long run, we will come to something tangible. But in the meantime, there will be some scrap, “said the representative of CIUSSS Estrie.
According to Breton, the risk of errors can only increase exponentially if laboratory personnel remain under pressure. Added to this is the multiplication of manipulations of samples to be analyzed, among other things because of centralization. Recall that the CHG will be the big loser once the restructuring is completed with 27 jobs less. For its part, the Brome-Missisquoi-Perkins Hospital (BMP) will lose seven positions. “We are worried about [specimen] transfers, job losses and the labor force that will have to migrate to Sherbrooke. Unfortunately, there will be a huge loss of expertise in the region, “said the representative of the APTS.
The massive transfer to Sherbrooke of samples from laboratories in the four corners of the Estrie is enough to make you dizzy, said Dr. Rizcallah. “Transfers, of course it’s scary,” he said. That’s why we set up a traceability system. But it’s not perfect. […] We are never made easy in the health system. “