By Robert Frank
Laval’s health care authority has confirmed that plans are afoot to require patients to seek medical care in the region where they live, and outlined the first services that will be transferred under the new policy at the start of the Quebec government’s new fiscal year.
“What we will see in the short term is that two services will be affected, April 1, 2014: predialysis and cataract surgery,” spokeswoman Francine Gosselin told The Suburban in an interview.
Gosselin said that this will affect some 48 patients with kidney disease who are now treated by the McGill University Hospital Centre (MUHC) in downtown Montreal, who will instead be sent to Laval’s Cité de la santé superhospital for treatment.
The shift won’t happen all at once, she added, and will be implemented in two phases.
“We expect that during the first year we will repatriate about 28 [MUHC] patients at a rate of two-to-three per month,” Gosselin explained. “At the same time, we will be doing likewise for [Montreal’s French superhospital] the Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM).”
“The following year, the remaining 20 [MUHC kidney patients] will be sent to Cité de la santé between March 2015-Feb. 2016,” she said. “The clinic is working very, very hard on it to respect these patients, 100 per cent of whom will be repatriated.”
Gosselin added that 100 per cent of cataract surgery patients will henceforth be treated in Laval.
“Consequently, optometrists and family doctors will be invited to refer their patients to Laval,” she said. “We expect to treat about 260 per year in Laval, based on statistics that quantify previous demand.”
“We have the capacity to absorb the influx,” she asserted. “We’re not worried.”
One way that the Laval health authority plans to handle the increased demand is to mimic the MUHC and CHUM policy of offloading patients. The plan is to send patients who currently travel to Laval from other regions like the Laurentians, Lanaudière and Montérégie back to their home region to get their health care services from their local health care authority.
“As we retrieve our Laval residents, patients from other regions [outside Montreal] who come to Laval for treatment at the Cité de la santé will likewise be repatriated to their respective regions,” Gosselin continued.
“For example, if you are from the Lanaudière region and have been coming to Laval for treatment, you will henceforth receive that treatment in Lanaudière,” she said.
Last week, MUHC patients’ rights activists voiced concern that patients needs and wishes were not being accounted for by the health care regionalization plan. Jean Rousselle, Vimont riding’s representative in the National Assembly, also told The Suburban in an interview that Quebecers want to retain their right to seek medical treatment wherever they want in the province.
Dissatisfied with the difficulty getting health care service in English, large numbers of Laval residents have for many years headed over the bridge for treatment in Montreal.
Gosselin underscored that Laval’s health care authority has made an effort to try to improve the availability of English service.
“We updated our plan for the delivery of service in the English language in 2012-2013,” she said, “based on specific goals.”
“Given the capacity of [health care and social service] personnel, we could have more services offered in English, but the base is there,” Gosselin added, highlighting efforts to introduce both health and social services for English-speaking Laval youth and seniors.
For example, as reported in The Suburban, the Laval health care authority recently funded the Laval Alzheimer’s Society to implement courses for families of vulnerable dementia victims, and to make more information available to English-speakers about the devastating disease, by paying to translate the group’s website into English.
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