In a strongly worded letter to staff last month, a senior MUHC official says a $32-million 'spending correction' imposed by Quebec's Health Ministry means fewer beds and seasonal closures at all sites of the teaching hospital.

Ewa Sidorowicz, the MUHC's director of professional services and associate director general of medical affairs, says in the Feb. 10 letter that there "is no way to sugar coat this phase of our transformation," calling it a "redefining moment for our hospital."

'It is an emotional and soul-searching task,' - MUHC director of professional services, Dr. Ewa Sidorowicz

Sidorowicz said the MUHC had lost a months-long battle with the Health Ministry for $50 million in extra funding to help it adjust to the realities of the move to the Glen site. She said administrators learned last November "in no uncertain terms" that only $18 million of that request would be granted. 

The letter does not detail how the $32 million in planned spending would be sliced from the 2015-2016 budget, however, Sidorowicz says $13 million must be reduced from "inpatient units." 

From 832 to 799 beds

That translates into cutting the number of beds across the network – with the exception of Lachine Hospital – from 832 to 799.

That includes beds at the Montreal Children's Hospital, Royal Victoria Hospital, Montreal General Hospital and the Montreal Neurological Institute.

In addition, Sidorowicz says, there will be "seasonal closures of several weeks across all sites during the summer, Christmas-New Year's holidays and spring break."

Sidorowicz is blunt in describing the challenges the bed closures will mean for the MUHC.

"It has forced conversations about what it means to be a University teaching hospital," she says. "It is an emotional and soul-searching task."

"Patient safety, quality of care as well as access to investigation and treatment must not be affected."

'Beds are one thing'

Some doctors say the reductions would be less critical if they could exit patients more quickly.

"Beds are one thing, but they are having a hard time getting patients through and out of hospital," said Dr. Robert Turcotte, a surgeon and sarcoma specialist at the MUHC.

MUHC officials are not commenting at this time on how the bed cuts and seasonal closures will impact each site within the teaching hospital network.

Ian Popple, the communications coordinator for the MUHC, said that a news conference will be held Friday to lay out details of the plans.

Feb. 10, 2016 letter from MUHC director of professional services, Ewa Sidorowicz:

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