MUHC patients' committee worried about 'rumoured' hospital merger

A proposal for yet another administrative shakeup at Montreal's English health care institutions is raising eyebrows.

Candidate for MUHC CEO job proposes major administrative shakeup

An MUHC spokesperson said the health centre would not comment on "the alleged merger" or on the selection process for the new CEO.

A proposal to reorganize part of Montreal's health network, less than 18 months after the last major overhaul came into effect, is drawing frustration from the patients' committee for the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC).

Dr. Lawrence Rosenberg, one of the candidates to take over as CEO of the MUHC following the retirement of Normand Rinfret, is proposing to create a new network of all McGill-affiliated hospitals. 

That news came as a shock to Amy Ma, co-chair of the MUHC Central Users' Committee, who said patients were never told that the selection committee would have a mandate to consider administrative mergers. 

"It's a completely different kettle of fish when you start to throw in mergers," said Ma. "It's worrisome because when you have centralization it detaches leadership from...employees at a local level."

Ma said patients have had no say in the months-long process to find a replacement for Rinfret, whose term officially ended last week, leaving the MUHC without a permanent CEO.

No comments on "rumoured" merger

An MUHC spokesperson said the health centre would not comment on "the alleged merger" or on the selection process for the new CEO.

"It is the Quebec government who appoints the [CEO] and thus, we cannot comment further," said Vanessa Dahma, communications coordinator for the MUHC. 

A spokesperson for Health Minister Gaétan Barrette also declined to comment on "rumours" of a merger and would only say that the selection process for the new CEO is ongoing.  

But Rosenberg, who is currently the CEO of West Central Montreal Health, including the Jewish General Hospital, confirmed his own candidacy for the MUHC job in a memo to staff, saying that his name has already been put forward to Barrette. 

In the memo, Rosenberg states that he plans to keep his current job, even if he is selected to run the MUHC. 

"The ideas I have put forward will be better served if I hold both positions," Rosenberg wrote.

In the memo, Rosenberg said he told the MUHC selection committee he would only take the job if he could create an "integrated McGill academic health network."

Currently, the nine McGill-affiliated hospitals are under three different jurisdictions:

The Montreal Chest Institute, Montreal Children's Hospital, Montreal General Hospital, Royal Victoria Hospital, Montreal Neurological Institute and the Lachine Hospital all fall under the MUHC banner.

The Douglas Mental Health hospital and St. Mary's Hospital are part of the Montreal West Island health board (CIUSSS de l'Ouest-de-l'Île-de-Montréal) and the Jewish General Hospital is part of West Central Montreal Health (CIUSSS Centre-Ouest-de-l'Ile-de-Montréal).

At least one department head from a McGill-affiliated hospital expressed concern to CBC that smaller institutions would be swallowed up in the new proposed bureaucracy.

Another staff member who works in mental health at West Central Montreal Health was skeptical that creating a network of all McGill-affiliated hospitals would improve things such as patient transfers between hospitals. 

"I don't think it's going to be less complicated. That's not been my experience of mergers," said the staff member, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the health board has not authorized staff to comment publicly.  

"I don't personally anticipate...that there would be much advantage for patients."

With files from CBC Montreal's Daybreak