Lachine Hospital Under Attack

One day after announcing bed closures at the Lachine Hospital Parti Quebecois Minister of Health Réjean Hébert announced that the Marois government will be removing the Lachine Hospital’s status from the MUHC and placing it under the CSSS, a controversial move that has sparked an outrage among users of the hospital, the MUHC and local politicians including Lachine Mayor Claude Dauphin who has vowed to organise protests” if the Health Minister follows through with plans to change the hospital’s status. Health Minister Hébert made it quite clear to media that the decision has nothing to do with alleged financial challenges faced by the MUHC but rather it is motivated by the implementation of the French language despite hospital users’ claims that there has never been a problem with French services at the mostly francophone institution.
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Editor in Chief - Kirk Bennett Media and site design by High Voltage Media

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Quebecers have come to expect a blinding onslaught of propaganda and manipulation from the minority government Parti Quebecois, elected again in 2012, but the recent series of flip-flops on the part of the separatist government seems more like “The Grand Illusion” than usual and citizens both French and English speaking are just not buying it.  The Grand Illusion unfolds First Health Minister Réjean Hébert clearly stated on January 9, 2013 that he was about to study removing the Lachine Hospital from the administrative auspices of the MUHC (McGill University Hospital Center) and that the consideration was due to language issues.  This was reiterated the next day by director-general of Montreal Health and Social Services Agency Danielle McCann.  Within another 24 hours following that statement things began to deteriorate with McCann stating that the matter now had nothing to do with language and it was only an attempt to reintegrate the Lachine hospital with the local CSSS (centre de santé et de services sociaux) Dorval-Lachine- LaSalle healthcare system.  And now we are getting more confusion and misinformation from the English media of Montreal (Gazette and CJAD) about the reasoning behind the Health Minister’s unpopular decision to study removal of the Lachine Hospital from the administration of the MUHC and place it under the arm of the CSSS which is the same administration that allowed the hospital to deteriorate shamefully in past decades.

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Mayor Rouleau’s letter

Immediately following the Health Minister’s announcement that the status of the Lachine Hospital was in question Dorval Mayor Edgar Rouleau wasted no time in writing a letter to the minister voicing his opposition to the proposed change of the hospital’s status. Letter from Dorval Mayor Edgar Rouleau

Murray Levine protests

Undeterred by -19C weather Mr. Levine is among many who are willing to take to the streets to voice their support of the Lachine Hospital’s current MUHC status.

Petitions

A series of petitions have been

set up to preserve the Lachine

Hospital’s MUHC status - just

click on the text below to

access the petitons:

Leave the Lachine Hospital

alone - Murray Levine’s online

petition

National Assembly Petition - online petition Lachine Hospital Foundation petition - Includes a list of locations where the petition can be signed.
Voice of Dorval.com Video
Immediate reaction Réjean Hébert’s announcement was immediately followed by outrage from the Mayor of Lachine Claude Dauphin, and Dorval Mayor Edgar Rouleau, both denouncing the Health Minister’s intentions.  Dauphin threatened to “Take to the streets with pots and pans” (as popularized by the Maple Spring movement of early 2012 when Quebec students and citizens demonstrated en mass in an act of civil disobedience by taking to the streets and banging on pots and pans for reduced tuitions and in opposition to Bill 78 which prohibited gatherings of more than 50 people without police consent) to protest removing the Lachine Hospital from the MUHC system.  Mayor Rouleau wrote a letter to the Health Minister voicing his opposition and concern over any such decision.  Within 48 hours a petition was drawn-up by the  Lachine Hospital Foundation and made public.  Since then two more peititions have been created, an electronic petition at the Quebec National Assembly and another electronic petition by Dorval citizen and activist Murray Levine who also set out in minus nineteen degrees Celsius weather at the Dorval Circle next to Autoroute 20 to protest the Health Minister’s move.  Levine has vowed to return to the streets to protest again next week. (see video link on this page sidebar) Saving the hospital In 2007 former Dean of McGill University Abraham Fuks came up with a plan to save the deteriorating Lachine Hospital which was rapidly becoming a place no one wanted to be.  It’s Emergency department had been all but shut down, it was no longer accepting ambulances, and many services had been halted - surgeries were either canceled or moved to other institutions due to lack of personnel.  The hospital was dirty and decrepit. Doctors were leaving the hospital rendering it desperately understaffed and without adequate qualified physicians.  Fuks came up with a plan to save the hospital by placing it under the MUHC system which would invest in the hospital and turn it around to become one of the most respected institutions on the Island of Montreal.  Staff were hired, doctors took up practice at the institution and the hospital was given a physical upgrade with newly painted walls, well equipped operating rooms and a renovated Emergency department.  For the past four years the hospital has functioned well as an officially French language institution which offers services also in English - and this is where we find the rub.  “Certain influences” outside the health care system have systematically applied pressure to remove the hospital’s MUHC status citing “too much English is a threat to the French language.” Flies in the ointment Recent poorly executed reporting by Montreal media have mistakenly pointed to Mario Beaulieu, President of the separatist Societe Saint Jean Baptiste, as the culprit behind the decision of the Health Minster to study the unpopular move of the Hospital to the CSSS.  They give Beaulieu too much credit.  Voice of Dorval research has uncovered proof that in fact it was not (as reported by the Gazette and CJAD) a recent letter that Beaulieu wrote to the Minister complaining about the hospital that prompted the fiasco, but rather it was long- term systematic pressure from another separatist group, l.e. Movement Quebec Francais (also having ties with Beaulieu), which as been on the hospitals’ case for five years or more ever since it was removed from the incompetence of the CSSS and placed into the MUHC system.  The MQF has always seen the MUHC status of the officially French institution as some sort of threat, and they have made it their mission to destroy the good work of the MUHC at the Lachine Hospital of the past five years. The trouble began in 2007 when the the announcement was made that the hospital would become part of the MUHC much to the chagrin of the MQF.  The, in 2008, an entente was signed between the MUHC and the MQF (under the title of their sister organization Movement Montreal Francais), plus a number of unions and the health ministry stating that the hospital would remain a French-speaking institution.  But ever since the MQF has maintained an obsessive fancy for the hospital constantly complaining and citing too much English.  They cite the use of some bilingual signage and the maintaining of some patients’ medical records in English.  The hospital was given the responsibility for its own management just as other hospitals in Montreal had been given such as Santa-Cabrina, Montreal’s Chinese Hospital, Saint Mary’s and the Jewish General.  The MQF complains that Lachine Hospital’s administration doesn’t respect the commitment to its French institution status.  We must remember that we are talking about a hospital where the concentration is on helping patients and not the promotion of a linguistic agenda but that seems to elude the MQF who are behaving as another militant wing of the Office de la langue Francais.  What is probably the most bizarre aspect of this is the fact that no one who uses the hospital has ever complained of any difficulty whatsoever of being served in French sufice only five complaints in five years according to Lachine Mayor Claude Dauphin.  So why the pressure from the MQF, why the pressure from the Health Minister?  In fact it is currently the support of the French-speaking community who have become the most powerful proponents of maintaining the hospital’s MUHC status proving to be the toughest resistance to the health minister’s wild idea. A comedy of errors No doubt Francophones and Anglophones alike from the area remember the “good old days” when: The paint was peeling off the dirty walls; They remember the crisis at the hospital in 1998 when most of the doctors walked out because salary ceilings imposed by the health minister made their jobs not worth doing; They likely remember the closing of the hospital’s intensive care unit in 2004 because the CSSS had irresponsibly allowed the unit to be manned by a single physician who needed and went a vacation; They remember the crisis in staffing which plagued the hospital in 2005 causing chaos and the ensuing threat that year to turn the hospital into a day-clinic for chronic-care and canceling all surgeries; They will also remember that later in 2005 another plan was hatched to convert the hospital to day-surgery and chronic-care and a 24-hour emergency unit; They likely remember that in 2006 the CSSS decided to turn the hospital into a regional center for cataract surgeries but threatened to close its intensive care unit and emergency department leaving patients to suffer a thirty-minute journey by ambulance to either the overflowing Lakeshore General Hospital in Pointe-Claire or to a downtown hospital such as the Montreal General - at this point the hospital began to stop accepting ambulances; They will remember that later on in 2006 the CSSS wanted to turn the hospital into a palliative care, medical imaging, and rehabilitation center (Dr. Paul Saba declared, “They want to turn the hospital into a huge ‘clinic.’ ”); They will remember that in 2007 the minister, following the recommendations of Dr, Abraham Fuks, wanted to amalgamate the LaSalle and Lachine Hospitals into one administration under the banner Centre hospitalier des Rapides; And they no doubt remember the crisis later in 2007 when the hospital could not find enough anesthesiologists, a chronic problem in hospitals across the province, and the impossibility of a plan to share the specialists with other hospitals which was rejected as unworkable - It wasn’t until Christmas of 2008 that the hospital returned to accepting ambulances!. As we can see the health ministry was relentless in their confused attempts to do “something” with the hospital but simply could not make up their mind.  So many ideas and threats of change in such a short period of time can only lead one to believe that something incompetent, or more insidious, was going on. Since 2008 the MUHC has been “associated” with the Lachine Hospital as “integration” with the MUHC was voted down by the unions and other interest groups related to the hospital citing fear that “integration” would threaten the French status of the institution.  Also since this time the MUHC has invested more than five million dollars and upgraded the hospital in addition to staffing it with a highly competent team of physicians and support staff.  The hospital has functioned well and local residents and patients have come to rely on the services finally restored to quality not seen in decades.  But now the Minister of Health wishes to change all that by returning the hospital to the same people who ran it into the ground and came up with a different plan for the hospital every few months and sometimes even every few days only to change their minds so many times it is shamefully mind-boggling. Les “casseroles” Lachine Mayor Claude Dauphin has declared that he is ready to take to the streets with citizens if the Minister of Health follows through with a study to change the hospital’s MUHC status.  Dauphin cited “pots and pans” (les casseroles) will be employed to make a lot of noise to emphasize Lachine and area citizens’ and the hospital administration’s opposition to any change of the hospital’s current status which serves well the local population and provides services in French and some English. Petitions and protests are ongoing and it appears that things are beginning to heat up with letters and emails flooding into the minister’s office.  Last count was over six-thousand signatures on a single petition alone in favor of maintaining the hospital’s status.  It appears the minister has a fight on his hands. Additional support In addition to the mayors of Lachine and Dorval and the Lachine Hospital Foundation the followng have voiced their support for the maintenance of the Lachine Hospital’s MUHC status: Member of the National Assembly for Marquette François Ouimet maintains that, "...since its affiliation with the MUHC, the hospital has seen major improvements in health care for the benefit of all patients. It is clear that language has never been an issue at this hospital. We ask that the Minister change his decision immediately...” NDG City Councillor Peter McQueen:  “I fully support that Lachine hospital remain administered by the MUHC so that its quality bilingual healthcare continues improving for all local residents.” Projet Montreal:  “Projet Montréal fears that this change will have negative consequences for the quality of healthcare delivered to patients and allies itself with the committee to keep Lachine Hospital within the MUHC. Projet Montréal asks that Québec Health Minister Réjean Hébert reconsiders this decision.”  Montreal Taxpayer’s Association:  “A hospital is not a place for your language games.” Kirk Bennett - Editor in Chief info@voiceofdorval.com
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