Quebec hospitals packed with flu patients



MONTREAL -- An early-season flu outbreak in Quebec has some hospitals across the province reporting capacity rates of over 200%.

Lachute Hospital in Lachute, Que., about 80 km northwest of Montreal, told QMI Agency Friday that it was operating at 250% capacity.

Eleven hospitals on Friday reported operating at capacities between 180% and 250%.

"It's not pretty," said Julie Boucher, director for the province's health ministry for Quebec's Laurentians region.

"It's been a long time since I've seen (emergency rooms) this busy."

Boucher said she expects the flu outbreak to peak Saturday.

It's been about a week that Montreal-area hospitals have been overloaded with patients. A gastro outbreak hit Montreal around Christmas time, and the numerous flu cases have compounded the problem in emergency rooms.

Bernard Mathieu, the head of the province's association of emergency physicians, said hospitals this year "are really congested, I would say that the situation is exceptional."

According to FluWatch, the national surveillance system that monitors its spread, the flu is on the rise across Canada and has claimed 15 lives in Ontario since Dec. 15.

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