Former family doctor named new head of MUHC

Pierre Gfeller, the current general director of the CIUSSS du Nord-de-l'Île-de-Montréal, will take up his new post at the McGill University Health Centre at the end of May.

Pierre Gfeller graduated from McGill's medical school

Dr. Pierre Gfeller took over has director of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) on May 28 and now, he says, the institution is not facing any new budget cuts. (Submitted by the MUHC)

The McGill University Health Centre has named a former family physician and hospital administrator as its new president and executive director.

Dr. Pierre Gfeller will take over the role starting on May 28.

"Over the next several months, my intention is to consult broadly and work with the board, the management team as well as the physicians, nurses and professionals on establishing together our priorities and our game plan," he said in a statement.

"Together we will set a path forward that builds on our strengths, stresses innovation and ensures Quebecers continue to benefit from leading-edge care."

A graduate of McGill's medical school, Gfeller worked as a family physician from 1981 to 2006 and for the past three years as president of the CIUSSS du Nord-de-l'Île-de-Montréal, which includes Sacré-Coeur and Fleury hospitals. 

He also has business degrees from the Université du Québec à Montréal and Université Paris-Dauphine.

Two years of turmoil 

The MUHC has been without a permanent president and executive director since Normand Rinfret retired in September 2016. Martine Alfonso has served in the role on an interim basis since then.

The institution has faced a rocky two years as clashes with the provincial government, budget cuts, staff burnout and resignations tested the limits of its administration.

In July, 10 members of the board resigned, citing the unco-operative approach of Health Minister Gaétan Barrette.

Barrette appointed 10 new independent members to the board in September, including chair Peter Kruyt.

Meanwhile, the search continued for a permanent head for the institution.

The MUHC Users' Committee was critical of that process and said patients were effectively shut out of the selection decision-making.

"Patients are the ultimate stakeholders at a hospital — its raison d'être — so it is only natural that we are concerned about having the right leader for our hospital," Amy Ma, co-chair of the committee, said in a statement.

"We hope that the new CEO will be inclusive of the voices of patients in decisions and actions unlike the process by which [he] was selected."

The Users' Committee pointed out that Barrette allowed a patient representative to sit on the selection committee that put forward recommendations to fill the vacant board positions.