Patients and physicians at Lachine Hospital are sounding the alarm over plans to close the gynecology clinic on April 1.
It’s a move the McGill University Health Centre’s (MUHC) administration has called final. But the hospital’s council of physicians is considering taking legal action if Quebec’s health minister doesn’t intervene and reverse the decision.
“We’re looking at the courts,” said the president of the hospital’s council of physicians Dr. Paul Saba. “We’ve been in contact with a number of lawyers and we’ll be moving quickly.”
Physicians at Lachine Hospital recently passed a unanimous resolution against the MUHC’s plan to close the clinic and transfer patients to LaSalle hospital, seven kilometres away. For many patients, the extra distance means a longer commute.
Some say they’ve already been told LaSalle isn’t taking on new patients.
“They’re totally booked up they’re not taking anyone else, so what do we all do? Where do we all go?” asked Diane Simpson. “There’s quite a few people.”
The clinic treats between 700 and 1,500 patients. MUHC administrators issued the following statement.
“The transfer of gynecology and colposcopy services to the LaSalle Hospital was planned with the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux and the CIUSSS de l’Ouest-de-l’Île-de-Montréal, and it will allow both institutions to focus on their respective missions and continue to provide patients with the highest quality, complementary services possible…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.”
“I was expecting more from our administration,” said Dr. Saba. “We must continue these services because there are no other gynecological services in Lachine or Dorval either in the public or private sphere.”
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Lachine Hospital’s council of physicians is calling on Quebec’s health minister to uphold a promise made in the National Assembly back 2007 with a resolution confirming the hospital’s right to maintain specialized services on the West Island.
“There’s nowhere written even in the clinical plan of the hospital to stop the services, so for the ministry to allow this to happen would be going against the resolution of the National Assembly,” said Dr. Saba.
Quebec’s health minister issued a statement explaining that she understands the concerns, but is confident that no services will be compromised and no patients will fall through the cracks.
But unless the minister intervenes, the hospital’s physicians insists they’ll turn to the courts.
“These are life-saving services that they’re providing because they’re catching cancers early on,” said Dr. Saba. “We cannot afford to stop the services.”