MUHC wants West Island patients to seek help closer to home

By Robert Frank and Kevin Woodhouse

While the new MUHC (McGill University Hospital Centre) promises to be state of the art in terms of advanced medical technology and provide every patient with a single room, plans for allowing West Island and Laval residents access to the hospital will be a challenge.

“It’s called repatriation of clientele,” said MUHC affairs and strategic planning director Richard Fahey, “To ensure that patients are treated as close as possible to home and [only] come to MUHC when they need very specific treatment not available elsewhere.”

Fahey did note that patients who are “very sick”, no matter where their home address is, “would remain the mandate of MUHC and the Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM).”

And while the MUHC plans to offer specialized care services, Jacques Cartier MNA Geoffrey Kelley believes that the repatriation of patients could work provided that “sufficient resources are made available for the Lakeshore General Hospital (LGH) and all other affected community hospitals.

“With patients coming from the West Island, La Montérégie and Vaudreuil-Dorion, the LGH is swamped at the best of times. But will this need be translated into help?” Kelley told The Suburban.

Fahey did note that MUHC is currently exploring, together with Quebec’s health ministry and regional health authorities, how this arrangement could be formalized.

“It’s also [their] responsibility to structure [health care service] to provide optimum care for patients,” said Fahey.

“Remember, in the health act, patients [currently] have the right to go to the [health care] institution of their choice,” Fahey acknowledged. “They have the right to go where they want, to seek what’s most effective, from the patient’s point of view.”

“If there are to be new expectations for the LGH, then the hospital will need further resources since offering the most array of services close to patients who live in the area is the best option,” said Kelley. “The hospital has submitted a plan to the government on how to handle the increased volume.”

The Suburban asked Fahey whether outlying health care facilities have the capacity to absorb the influx of hordes of patients who hitherto were treated in Montreal.

“In our discussions with them, they have indicated that they are willing,” he replied, “and they said that they are capable of taking on such a load.”

“Our discussions are ongoing,” he added,” but no one has said ‘No, we cannot take them.’”

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