MUHC is considering a reorientation of care at Lachine Hospital

Lachine Hospital in Montreal can fully resume community hospital services or refocus on developing clinics that provide specialized care.  (Radio-Canada/Google - photo credit)

Lachine Hospital in Montreal can fully resume community hospital services or refocus on developing clinics that provide specialized care. (Radio-Canada/Google – photo credit)

The McGill University Health Center (MUHC) is considering fundamentally changing the way Lachine Hospital in Montreal cares for patients.

Citing staffing issues and a drop in the volume of activity at the hospital, the MUHC is considering two different proposals.

One would see the hospital – which decided earlier this month to no longer accept patients arriving by ambulance and only doing day surgeries – operating again as a fully operational community hospital.

In the second scenario, the hospital would shift its focus to developing clinics that provide follow-up care to patients with chronic diseases and hospitalized patients who are clinically stable.

“We can confirm that the teams are developing two scenarios and that 60 hospital beds will be used in both scenarios,” the MUHC, which oversees the hospital’s operations, said in a statement.

“Patients are therefore hospitalized in both scenarios, but have different profiles with different clinical needs depending on the services provided.”

Chloë Ranaldi/CBC

Chloë Ranaldi/CBC

Consultations between medical and administrative staff are ongoing, MUHC said, and hospital management met with community representatives on two separate occasions to discuss the changes.

It is hoped that a decision will be reached by the end of April.

Lachine Mayor Maja Vodanovic says she is waiting to get all the facts before weighing what she thinks the way forward is. She says she is confident patients will benefit from changes made to the care provided.

The hospital is already experiencing a $223 million facility expansion.

“We are building new operating rooms in the new palliative care and new rooms for patients,” said Vodanovic.

“Overall it’s good. We just have to figure out how to work with the MUHC to have the hospital that serves the needs of Lachine and that is also useful for… the larger MUHC hospital.”



dr Paul Saba, who practices family medicine at the hospital, fears the hospital will no longer serve the community.

Saba says there are enough medical staff to keep the hospital a fully functioning community hospital and reducing services would harm those in need of care – whether in Lachine, the West Island or other parts of Montreal.

“This is not a good situation for anyone, [not] for the West Island patients, and it’s definitely not a benefit for the people in the inner city either, because they’re already overrun,” he said.

He also says the proposed changes did not go down well with his colleagues when they were presented at a meeting last week.

“They believe — and are fully committed — to maintaining the hospital as a fully functioning community hospital with a 24-hour emergency room, 24-hour ambulance service, and a fully-functioning intensive care unit.”

Saba proposes a third option, in which the hospital would revert to a fully functioning community hospital with ambulance services and 24-hour emergency rooms and intensive care units, but with expanded outpatient care.

The Quebec Department of Health says the MUHC’s proposals would benefit patients on the hospital’s territory.

“This type of restructuring has already been carried out elsewhere, for example at the Jeffrey Hale Hospital in Quebec City, and there have been positive results in terms of providing quality services,” the ministry replied in a statement, referring to a hospital transforming its emergency Rooms in a clinic for minor emergencies last year.

“This is an effective way to meet the needs of patients who require less urgent care and who are walking to the hospital, freeing up other hospitals in the area.”


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