Meet the Hop Lachine Team: Claude Briault, a busy retiree

Claude Briault needs no introduction at the Lachine Hospital. He has only been working there for 41 years now. Wait, you say: Claude is retired! Something doesn’t sound right? Let us explain. 

As his retirement project, Claude chose to work. Yes, he is the project manager for the Lachine Hospital modernization. He officially retired on May 21, 2021, but six days later, he was asked to stay on as technical consultant for the HOP Lachine project. A little while later, he became project manager because no other candidates applying for the position seemed better suited for the job. So, Claude started his retirement project on May 27, 2021. 

As manager of the project, Claude is the link between the Société québécoise des investissements (SQI), the firm AXOR and the people at the hospital. He has been involved in the project from the get-go. In 2015, he participated in the Lean Design workshops for the project. The Lean method focuses on improving patient flow and work organization by bringing together everyone involved. 

“We had about 15 meetings. There were up to 100 people at some of them, including the former mayor of Lachine,” Claude reminisces.  “After those meetings, it was clear that we could no longer ask patients to go to the second floor for the accounting department, then another level for x-rays and then yet another floor for the waiting room or a specialist’s office. The meetings helped us better understand the patient experience and improve how everyone moves around the hospital. The plans for the new hospital make things easier for patients and staff.” 

“With time, new methods also emerged in the construction of hospitals,” says Claude, who has witnessed changes in the ways of doing things. “In the new building, all the rooms will be private and have their own bathroom. Also, these days in the management of big projects like this one, there is no longer just one contractor. Several smaller contracts are awarded to different bidders and all these groups are coordinated by AXOR, the firm mandated by the SQI. A contractor might need a special authorization or a permit that requires the signature of a hospital official - it’s my job to see to that.” It makes for a lot of things to oversee, but Claude keeps a watchful eye on it all. 

He knows the hospital like the back of his hand. To the painter who is about to apply a second coat and is searching in vain for the document listing all the paint colours for the hospital, Claude responds, “Try 6105-11” the number of the proper tint. While we are chatting, there is a knock at the door. It’s Edith, from the Lachine Hospital Foundation. She is coming to have some cheques signed. Claude is the go-to person for that too because, on top of all his other jobs, Claude has stayed on as the staff representative to the foundation. Claude arrived at the Lachine Hospital in 1982 when he was 21 years old. His life is inseparable from that of the hospital. To say the least, he is committed. You could even say that Claude is the glue that holds the hospital together!