Montreal

Montreal doctor vows to fight decision to close Lachine Hospital's gynecology service

The hospital will stop providing specialized gynecological care at the end of the month and Dr. Paul Saba has already asked Quebec's health ministry to intervene. If that doesn't work, he says he will take the matter to court.

Service shuttered to make room for men's health program

Dr. Paul Saba has vowed to take his fight to keep gynecology services at the Lachine Hospital all the way to court if he has to. (CBC)

A physician at the Lachine Hospital says he'll fight the decision to close the facility's gynecology service.

The hospital will stop providing specialized gynecological care at the end of the month and Dr. Paul Saba has already asked Quebec's health ministry to intervene.

Saba says the gynecology clinic has existed for 15 years at the hospital, providing a vital service to patients.

"It's essential," he said. "Especially for the women of our Lachine/Dorval area, and for the whole of Montreal island."

Until now, two gynecologists worked two days per month at the Lachine Hospital. The McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), which oversees the hospital, will be diverting patients to the LaSalle hospital instead.

Having to get to LaSalle to access a key medical service is going to be hardest on low-income women, said Saba.

"It's not always easy," he said. "Not everybody has a car or can afford a taxi."

Plus, he added, many gynecologists are overloaded as it is and not taking on new patients, meaning many women won't be able to find a new provider right away.

Saba said he will take his fight to court if he has to.

The reassignment of gynecology services to LaSalle Hospital has been planned for a long time, and the team in LaSalle will be able to take care of Lachine's clientele, a spokesperson for Health Minister Danielle McCann said in an email.

No patient currently being treated in gynecology will fall through the cracks, and service won't be compromised, the statement said.

Not a cost-cutting measure, MUHC says

MUHC spokesperson Gilda Salomone said in an email that the closure is not a cost-cutting measure, and no cost savings are expected from this decision.

Instead, she wrote, "one of the main priorities of Lachine Hospital is to develop a comprehensive men's health program to complement the women's health program currently offered by the LaSalle hospital."

The Lachine hospital is located near the intersection of 16th Avenue and St-Antoine Street. (CBC)

The transfer of gynecology and colposcopy services to the LaSalle Hospital was planned with the Health Ministry and the CIUSSS, and it will allow both institutions to focus on their respective missions, she stated.

Those missions, she added, include continuing "to provide patients with the highest quality, complementary services possible."

Since the gynecologists at the Lachine Hospital only work two days per month, patients were already being referred to LaSalle hospital or other institutions when required, said Salomone.

The MUHC will work with a team of doctors at the LaSalle hospital, which is seven kilometres away, to "ensure seamless continuity of care" and "minimize any adverse impact" the situation has on patients, she said.

The doctors were not MUHC doctors, she said, but instead had temporary associate member status. 

With files from Kate McKenna

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