The super hospital MUHC
By: Dan Laxer – Montreal Times
The care at the Montreal General Hospital is second to none. At least as far as hospitals in Quebec are concerned. The staff is great. It’s the building I could do without. Especially the Emergency Room, where horribly sick and injured patients lay exposed, curtains open, hospital gowns all but covering their most private areas, all moaning, groaning, crying, sometimes screaming. At times a prisoner, chained to his gurney, will start to scream and swear at the nurses. It looks and sounds like a World War I field hospital. And seems about as sanitary as well.
Which is why I get very excited when I drive by the MUHC Glen site. The superhospital looks like it’s shaping up nicely, except for the underground parking garage that’s really above ground. You see, the construction consortium that built the darned thing pretends it’s underground because of the magical measurements they took before building it. They say “Look. See? The ‘ground’ is all the way up here (several blocks to the north) but the parking garage is all the way down here, below the level of the ground we measured way up here. Hence,” goes their magical thinking, “underground parking.”
Also, the colourful tiles on the outside of the building are a bit on the kitschy side, if you will allow me some subjective leeway. Still, it’s what will be on the inside of the hospital that will dictate the facility’s efficacy as a panacea for what has traditionally ailed out health system.
I’m not convinced.
This is Quebec, where we manage despite a long-standing shortage of both doctors and nurses. This is the province that closes hospital beds at the same rate they close schools. The difference is that we close schools because we just don’t have enough students to fill the classrooms. However there are more than enough patients to go around. We just don’t have the staff, the place, or in some cases even the technological capability, or even the pharmaceutical capability to help them all. So I suspect that in short order many of the spectacular, top of the line rooms in either superhospital will sit empty, devoid of either patients, or the medial professionals to treat them.
To wit, we found the money to build new hospitals, but will we have the resources to sustain them in the long run?
The roughshod nature of what the authorities refer to as the greatest case of fraud in Canadian history was at the forefront again this past week when a local restaurateur finally threw up his hands and gave in to the strong-arm tactics of the MUHC Superhospital syndicate. Café Mauro has been in a building adjacent to the Glen site for 17 years. The building in which Domenico Covone has served up lunchtime fare for nearly two decades is being co-opted for medical clinics and offices. The MUHC says Mr Covone was given plenty of time to make other arrangements. But last week a “consultant,” as it were, hired by the MUHC, paid Mr. Covone a little visit. He’s got an extra month. But come July 1, Café Mauro will be taken for a little drive.
Surely to God they could have found him a corner inside the hospital where he could have set up a kiosk, still called Café Mauro, where patients and their families, doctors, nurses, administrators, and other professionals, could have popped down for a sandwich and a coffee. It would have been good for Mr. Covone. It would have been good for the superhospital. But they’d rather push him aside, I guess, and make room for the big boys, the Second Cups, the Starbucks’, and Tim Hortons’ of the world, whom the MUHC will, no doubt, court, and who would, I’m sure, pay handsomely for prime real estate inside the hospital. The rich will get richer, while the Domeinco Covones and Café Mauros of the word will just disappear.
Don’t get me wrong. I love Tim Horton’s. And I think the Second Cup story is one of the greatest Canadian business stories of all time. But surely a man like Frank O’Dea would appreciate how hard a man like Domenico Covone works, and has worked, to build something from the ground up. Frank O’Dea doesn’t own Second Cup anymore. But I’m sure Mr. Covone could use an infusion of whatever it is that got O’Dea off the ground.
I don’t want to cast aspersions on the superhospital just yet, though. It, too, is being built from the ground up, and deserves at least as much of a chance as they’re giving Café Mauro.