Honey, I shrunk the hospital!

Single rooms, shorter stays, gee-whiz technology and—hopefully—better drugs

By Robert Frank

“It’s true that there will be fewer beds at the [new superhospital’s] Glen site,” acknowledged McGill University Hospital Centre’s public affairs and strategic planning director Richard Fahey. “The aging population is a major concern for health authorities in Quebec, Canada and throughout the world.”

“The decision was made by the government, when it created the project, to make funding available for fewer beds,” he reminded. “That has clinical planning implications.”

In plain English, it means that it will house fewer beds to treat Montreal’s English-speakers, whose demographics, the 2011 census revealed, are aging more rapidly the overall population.

The new superhospital has adopted an array of coping strategies to face the challenge of delivering more health care with fewer resources.

Treatment treadmill

“There’s no silver bullet,” Fahey admitted. “If I have more patients with the same infrastructure, I need to treat them more rapidly in order to ensure that they get the level of care that they deserve. That means using state-of-the-art technology to make us more efficient and very precise in the provision of health care services.”

“Medicine has evolved. All the rooms [in the new superhospital] will be single beds,” he explained. “That means less infection and shorter stays. New surgical procedures are less invasive and more efficient.”

“We’re also discussing with various regional health care authorities on the western tip of Montreal—Verdun, Cavendish, Dorval, LaSalle and Lachine—about where to care for the patient, in order to treat primary and secondary care patients there as much as possible,” he said. “We’re also in [similar] discussions with the regions on the periphery of Montreal.”

In the immediate vicinity of the superhospital, the plan to farm out primary and secondary care to adjacent medical clinics has foundered, as neighbours have expressed a not-in-my-back-yard opposition to the development.

Support clinics still needed

“More and more, health authorities are creating public clinics with extended hours. That will transform health services,” Fahey reported. “We currently have 31 offices, but Westmount wants to restrict the number to 35. We will see other clinics appear in Notre Dame de Grâce, as well. The Queen Elizabeth Hospital is also a facility. All of these will support primary and secondary care in the region.”

“That doesn’t mean that primary and secondary care won’t be provided [at the superhospital],” he added. “We’re a teaching hospital, so we have to teach the residents by exposing them to primary, secondary and tertiary patients.” 
Fahey told The Suburban that an intergovernmental committee is looking at what to do with existing hospital facilities. 

“They’re determining how to dispose of the buildings that will be vacated,” he said. “They’re worth about $200 million.”

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