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MUHC task force to focus on pediatrics
| Amidst concerns that the pediatric mission of the Montreal Children's Hospital isn't receiving the kind of careful handling it requires as the institution is folded into the McGill University Health Centre, a task force has been created to examine the administrative relationship of the Children's within the overall MUHC structure.
The creation of the task force was preceded — and perhaps spurred — by the resignation of Pat Sheppard as the MUHC's associate executive director and as the Children's Hospital's executive director.
In a letter announcing her resignation, which was obtained and excerpted by The Gazette earlier this month, Sheppard wrote, "The challenge of creating a strong and vibrant MUHC that has, as one of its major components, a children's hospital that thrives within this new organization, has proven to be a very difficult task."
The task force, which is expected to make its recommendations within 45 days, is chaired by Arnold Steinberg, chair of the MUHC's board of directors.
Other task force members include Dean of Medicine Abe Fuks, Ann Lynch, the MUHC's head of medical nursing, and Eric Maldoff, a prominent Montreal lawyer and the chair of the MUHC Council for Services to Children and Adolescents.
Dr. Harvey Guyda, the chair of the Department of Pediatrics, says everyone at the Montreal Children's Hospital is keenly interested in the task force's work.
"We really think this is an important occurrence," says Guyda. "It's absolutely essential" that the task force goes about its mission. "It's also essential that it comes to a conclusion that is satisfactory to the pediatric community.
"The bottom line is the recognition of the pediatric mission within the MUHC and all that implies in terms of patient care and everything else," Guyda says.
"We plan to talk to a number of leaders at the MUHC," says Fuks. "People on the pediatric side, on the adult side, clinicians, administrators — and see what their views are on the best way to go about [the integration of hospitals into the MUHC]."
"On the one hand, we have to ensure that the specific requirements of the pediatric mission are met," says Dr. Hugh Scott, executive director of the MUHC.
"But we also have to advance it in such a way that the MUHC is more than just the sum of its parts.
"It was understood from the word go that there would be a separate pediatric component," says Scott of the planning process for the MUHC. That the Montreal Children's would be swallowed whole by the MUHC and thrown into a blender with the MUHC's other components "was never something that was proposed by anyone.
"What it really comes down to is this: what needs to be separate and what doesn't. To take an easy example, there is no reason to have a separate payroll system. Obviously, as you go further into the process, there are greyer areas.
"We've been very successful on a number of fronts," says Scott, pointing to the development of the MUHC's research institute as one example. "That was considered to be quite a difficult challenge a year ago, but we've managed a mixture of integration, while at the same time respecting the specificity of the pediatric mission."
He adds that the research institute's associate director comes from the Montreal Children's Hospital — pediatrics and human genetics professor Rima Rozen.
Scott indicates that there are a number of areas, cardiology, for instance, where it's important to acknowledge that researchers and clinicians dealing with pediatric issues have very different methods and requirements than specialists working with adults.
But, he adds, there are other areas, such as dermatology and rheumatology, where tighter links between adult and pediatric specialists might be beneficial for both sides.
"We have to look at each area one by one."
One area where tighter links between pediatric specialists and their counterparts at the adult hospitals will be essential is in clinical care for adolescents, says Scott.
"That's a challenging area. It's a time of life where it's normal to be rebelling against the system. With child patients, you do things for the patient. Adult patients want to be more involved in their care. We want to ensure that the transition from adolescent care to adult care is as seamless as possible. To do that, we'll need to integrate our clinical teams."