New plans for Montreal General Hospital in the works
Statement by Claudio Bussandri, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the MUHC, and Normand Rinfret, Interim Director General and Chief Executive Officer.
After holding public hearings, the City of Montreal announced last fall that it was referring to the Government of Quebec a decision on amending the by-law to allow 1750 Cedar to be used for institutional purposes, or more precisely as a healthcare facility. In the ensuing months, Quebec’s Ministry of Health and Social Services has made it clear that it does not support the zoning change.
This situation unfolded on the cusp of the creation of a new McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) Board of Directors and our respective appointments as Chairman of the Board and Interim Director General and CEO. We, along with our Board and management colleagues, have now had the opportunity to review the file. In order to respect the government’s wishes, we are revisiting plans for the redevelopment of the Montreal General Hospital (MGH), and we are moving forward with the winding up of the 1750 Cedar project, which we believe will culminate with the sale of the property in its current state.
This has not been an easy decision.
There are strong arguments from a public policy and a healthcare perspective to incorporate 1750 Cedar, an adjacent building, into the MGH. The MUHC intended for it to be the home of outpatient clinics such as those for general surgery, trauma, plastic surgery, cardiology, and pain management. In developing this plan, we had benefitted from the input of a wide cross-section of stakeholders, from patients and their families to healthcare professionals and planners, and we are confident that this approach would have allowed us to effectively fulfill our mission as an academic health centre.
We must also acknowledge that we failed to secure the support of our neighbours, our elected representatives and other Montrealers for our plans. The review process, however, was fair and democratic, and we, in turn, respect the outcome.
Therefore we have launched discussions with the various parties involved with 1750 Cedar with a goal of negotiating our exit from the project through the sale of the existing land and improvements by the end of the year at minimal or no cost to the MUHC. The property will then revert to its original residential purpose.
We appreciate that many in our internal community will be disappointed. What we also know is that they are professionals committed to meeting the needs of our patients and advancing research and education. We intend to ensure that they have the appropriate means to do so.
As such, our planners are already hard at work identifying and analysing alternative options. They will be working and consulting throughout the summer and fall, and by the end of the year we expect to be able to unveil a plan that meets the needs of the population we serve and one that is both fiscally and environmentally responsible.
We should be clear that one of our planning parameters is that the MGH will remain an integral part of the MUHC, which is consistent with the Quebec Government’s 2003 request that we keep a downtown hospital open. We have already made significant infrastructure investments at the MGH, including the modernization of our Mental Health, Gastroenterology and Cardiac Care units and the construction of a new Cardiac Electrophysiology Laboratory. We will build on these improvements, and we are fully committed to having a state-of-the-art tertiary (Level 1) trauma centre.
Ultimately, outstanding health care is our number one priority. At the same time, we are aware that needs are changing and that we at the MUHC have a key role to play in the transformation of our healthcare system. As we develop our plans for the MGH, we are determined to meet this challenge head-on and will be guided by our vision of perpetuating and growing excellence in patient care, research, teaching and health technology assessment.