Chaos at airports: a canceled flight deprives them of attention

Chaos at airports: a canceled flight deprives them of attention

Fifty-seven patients from the Magdalena Islands suffering from chronic pain will have to patiently cope with their problems for two months, due to the cancellation of an Air Canada flight carrying a medical specialist.

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The crisis that shakes the country’s airports is not only ruining vacations. She speaks with Dr. David Landry, who has been traveling periodically to the Islands for five years to provide medical imaging services and cortisone and anesthetic infiltrations.


David Landry, medical radiologist

Photo courtesy of Dominique Lelièvre

David Landry, medical radiologist

As he does every two months, the doctor-radiologist went to the Montreal-Trudeau airport last Sunday, July 3, to take a flight to the archipelago. But at the last moment, bad surprise: Air Canada cancels its flight citing “factors related to the pandemic beyond our control”.

The doctor, who works at Notre-Dame Hospital in Montreal, was finally able to catch another flight on Tuesday, but the lost 48 hours could not be made up.

“It means that on Monday and Tuesday morning, all appointments had to be cancelled. In total and everywhere, there were 58 canceled appointments. So there are 58 patients who will live with their pain for another two months, ”he laments.

Of these 58 appointments, only one could be resumed at the end of the week, since the rest of the doctor’s schedule in the Islands was already busy with other patients.

not the first

The doctor regrets that this is not the first time that air travel has caused him and his colleagues headaches. He cites three other unforeseen experiences in recent months, those of the Pascan company: an interrupted flight, a reservation problem and confusing instructions at the airport.

“All the specialist colleagues who come here have similar stories. You really have to have strong backs to come here,” she says.

“What worries me a lot is that all these problems mean that there are patients who do not receive their attention. »

The doctor wants the government to get involved in the file, to give more reliability to the air service. He suggests evaluating the possibility of assigning a weekly flight to personnel providing essential services.

Uncertain future

Because if nothing changes, the stress related to travel and lack of efficiency, both for him and for the patients, could be right for him to participate.

“I already promised that I will continue for next year, but for sure if it doesn’t get better or if it gets worse, for 2024, I really can’t make any more promises,” he said ruefully.

Invited to react, Air Canada blames “the lack of resources experienced by third-party service providers [qui] impacted airport operations and the aviation industry,” due to the cancellation of Sunday’s flight.

The carrier always assures that it is doing its best to find an alternative solution for its customers, saying “I understand[re] perfectly the disappointment and inconvenience” they experience.

The CISSS fears resignations

The CISSS des Îles-de-la-Madeleine fears that medical specialists will leave the region if the reliability of air transport does not stabilize.

Due to its isolation, the archipelago has a hundred doctors from abroad who come from time to time to provide specialized care.

“There are doctors who are showing the fact that at some point they may quit, so that’s definitely a concern for me,” says CEO Sophie Doucet.

She says she has frequent contact with Pascan, which, unlike Air Canada, offers year-round air travel. The CISSS also has a contract with it for the transportation of users.

According to the figures presented to him, the reliability index is increasing.

“However, there are possible solutions that have been explored by Pascan and are being implemented, so I would venture to believe that the situation has improved in recent weeks. »

Despite everything, he follows the case closely. “There is a huge fragility and the entire aviation world is affected. »

Pascan did not respond to our request for comment.

not surprised

According to Ms. Doucet, the pandemic, labor shortages, changes in federal regulations, mechanical failures, and difficult weather conditions last winter are all contributing factors.

The deputy for Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Joël Arseneau, does not say he is surprised by the misadventure experienced by Dr. David Landry. “He is symptomatic of a situation that has persisted since at least the start of the pandemic. »

Last May, The newspaper recounted the testimony of another specialist, an ophthalmologist, who was considering leaving her practice in the region due to travel irritants.

According to Mr. Arseneau, the Legault government missed its target with its $500 airline ticket program in the regions.

“Airlines are short of supplies, there is a shortage of pilots, there are planes that are not always very reliable, there is the weather, so we increased the layers of problems, and we overlapped one saying: we will increase the traffic of flights that were already difficult,” he said.

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