MUHC independent board members resign, cite conflict with health minister

Click to play video: 'Concerns about care as MUHC independent board members resign'
Concerns about care as MUHC independent board members resign
WATCH: Concerns are growing over the future of the MUHC after a mass resignation of the board’s independent members. As Global’s Tim Sargeant reports, union leaders say it’s a sign of bad relation that’s having a negative impact on patient care – Jul 11, 2017

The 10 independent board members of the McGill University Hospital Centre (MUHC) board of directors have resigned after a brief meeting.

The volunteer members made the announcement Monday afternoon.

“We were chosen for this volunteer position for our broad and diverse range of experience and expertise,” the members wrote in a press release.

“What unites us is our commitment to helping ensure Quebecers continue to benefit from the MUHC’s leadership in patient care, teaching, research and technology assessment.”

READ MORE: MUHC concerned about patient care if budget cuts continue

The group cites a lack of dialogue over the last two years with Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette as the reasons  for their resignations.

“[He] has for many months refused to engage with us, ignoring our requests for meetings, not responding to correspondence and refusing to share reports like the Joshi and Desjardins Reports with us before making them public months after they were submitted,” the press release states.
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Instead, the members accuse the minister of threatening them with trusteeship and questioning their competency, insisting that they believe he views the board as a “stumbling block” that prevents the hospital from reaching its full potential.

“We are at an impasse. Our responsibility and our duty is to focus on what is in the best interest of the MUHC,” the members state.

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“The Board of Directors of the MUHC should not be simply an advisory board. It needs to assume its role which is to govern the affairs of the MUHC.”

The independent board members include:

  • Claudio Bussandri (Chair)
  • Gail Campbell
  • Marie Giguere
  • David Laidley
  • Teresa Pacheco
  • Robert Rabinovitch
  • Janis Riven
  • Glenn Rourke
  • Melissa Sonberg
  • Norman Spencer

Outgoing board member Glenn Rourke spoke to Senior Anchor Jamie Orchard about the resignation.

“We understand that hospitals can’t always get along perfectly with the minister or ministry, but we do require a close working relationship to discuss problems.”

He said the board has had it with having to watch the minister make public announcements before consulting its members and dodging their calls.

The MUHC Users’ Committee said in a press release that it has also tried to meet with the minister about improving care.

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“Patients are being affected by this…postponement of surgical procedures affecting the well-being of users, difficulties in getting appointments with a specialist, inadequate facilities for people with reduced mobility,” the committee wrote.

Geoffrey Chambers, QCGN vice-president, says he hopes the chapter will come to an end with the naming of new board members.

“It’s the only big hospital that hasn’t been able to come to some kind of understanding with the ministry,” he said.

In a telephone interview with Global News, Barrette said he is working with the English-speaking community.

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Barrette feels that blame for the impasse lies squarely with the outgoing board. Last September, the board of directors selected two possible candidates for the CEO position, but both were supporters of an even bigger merger of the McGill network.

The health minister consulted the community and found that “that’s not something the population is ready for.”

Barrette — who is proud to say he is a patient at the MUHC — is also convinced that the hospital is adequately funded.

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“[The funding] is a bit higher than the CHUM for instance,” Barrette said.

He will continue to work closely with the hospital community and its clients, hoping to meet with the hospital’s new doctors later this week.

In the meantime, the MUHC will continue to be led by interim president and executive director Martine Alfonso.

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