Montreal

MUHC Reproductive Centre moving to new home

The MUHC Reproductive Centre, tucked away on the sixth floor of the old Royal Victoria Hospital's Women's Pavillion, is moving to the site of CHUM's old IVF clinic in Place Dupuis.

Fertility clinic, last remaining department at the old Royal Vic, moving to site of CHUM's old IVF clinic

The MUHC Reproductive Centre is moving into the space abandoned by the CHUM fertility clinic, which merged with the clinic at Ste. Justine Hospital. (CBC)

The last department left behind at the Royal Victoria Hospital is finally moving.

The MUHC Reproductive Centre, tucked away on the sixth floor of the old Women's Pavilion, is gearing up to move at the end of October, eighteen months after the rest of the hospital transferred operations to the Glen site.

The MUHC Reproductive Centre, operating on the sixth floor of the Women's Pavilion of the original Royal Victoria Hospital, will be the last department to move out of the 19th-century building this fall. (Charles Contant/CBC)

There had been talk that the centre would be relocated to a building on de Maisonneuve Boulevard West, close to the new MUHC superhospital.

Instead, it will move to Place Dupuis, near the Berri-UQAM Metro station.

Dr. William Buckett, the reproductive centre's director, said it is taking over the space that used to be occupied by the Centre hospitalier universitaire de Montréal's (CHUM) fertility clinic.

CHUM clinic merged with Ste-Justine's

When the government announced the end of publicly funded in-vitro fertilization last fall, the CHUM decided to merge its operations with the IVF clinic at Ste-Justine Hospital. 
The space vacated by the CHUM's old IVF clinic is ideally suited to the MUHC's reproductive centre, says its director, Dr. William Buckett. (Radio-Canada)

"For us, the benefit is everything is ready," said Buckett. "It's a lab that worked well, and I think it's a way to avoid unnecessarily spending more public money."

Buckett predicts many patients will like the new location, which is centrally located and right on the Metro line.

"It was always a bit of a pain getting to the Vic, even when the whole hospital was here," said Buckett.

Bill 20 backgrounder

Last November, the Quebec government dramatically changed the way it funds fertility treatment, with the passing of Bill 20.

Couples who want to access IVF now must pay for the procedure up front, at a cost of about $10,000. They will get some money back as tax credits, based on a sliding scale linked to their income.

In the lead-up to the law's enactment, the MUHC elected to keep the MUHC Reproductive Centre at the otherwise-vacant 19th-century legacy buildings of the Royal Victoria Hospital, which allowed it to monitor the fallout from the changes wrought by the new law.

As predicted, those changes led to a dramatic reduction in the number of patients and IVF procedures.

Job losses

About 40 per cent of the staff who worked in the embryology lab and 20 per cent of the centre's nurses lost their positions, Buckett said.

Since then, he said, patient numbers are slowly creeping back up as prospective parents find ways to pay for the procedure, but it's nowhere near what it was.

However, Buckett says even that has a silver lining. 
The head of the MUHC Reproductive Centre, Dr. William Buckett, said with the changes in IVF funding, fewer women with little chance of success are opting for fertility treatment. (CBC)

In the past, when the government was footing the bill for IVF, some women who had little likelihood of success continued to undergo fertility treatment.

The new rules have discouraged many of those women, so those now being treated have a better chance of getting pregnant.

"We will see an increase in the live birth rate," Buckett predicts.

October move date

The reproductive centre hopes to move to Place Dupuis over the next two months and to be fully operational by Oct. 23.

Not being right next to the Glen site will mean a bit of shuttling back and forth for embryologists and doctors, said Buckett, but they'll try to keep travel to a minimum.

About the Author

Leah Hendry is a TV, radio and online journalist with CBC Montreal Investigates. Contact her via our confidential tipline: 514-597-5155 or on email at montrealinvestigates@cbc.ca.

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