Emergency room nurses at Gatineau's Hull hospital refused to work for two hours Wednesday night to emphasize concerns over understaffing, and the head of their union says more protests could be held if the hospital doesn't get more nurses.
The hospital cafeteria sit-in began after only seven of 11 nurses showed up for their shifts, on a night when the emergency room was at 200 per cent of capacity.
The nurses said the level of understaffing was unacceptable and dangerous for patients.
The protest ended after day-shift nurses agreed to come in and work overtime.
Élizabeth Leduc, who heads the union representing nurses at Hull hospital, said she can't guarantee it will be the last such work refusal.
"I don't have a crystal ball. I can't tell you if it's going to happen again," Leduc said, adding she hopes it won't.
The union was in talks Thursday afternoon with hospital administration in an effort to find possible solutions to the understaffing problems that include postponing vacations and working 12-hour shifts, Leduc said.
The protest took place a week after the Quebec government announced funding to bolster medical staffing in the Outaouais region.
But Leduc said nurses are fed up with the shortage, which has been a problem the past eight years.
"They need something to change it right away. What they need is personnel."
Hospital officials would not comment on the protest or the talks with the union, but said they are trying to find solutions to the nursing shortage.
They also promised the Hull hospital emergency room, which was at 140 per cent capacity for most of Thursday, will stay open and will continue to provide normal services.