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The McGill University Hospital Centre (MUHC) to be built at Glen Yards, near Vendome Metro, received the go-ahead from the new provincial Liberal government. On July 20, Health Minister Philippe Couillard announced that the government approved the project, along with the Centre Hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal.
Couillard expressed a desire for the two institutions to work together to ensure they complement each other's respective missions.
Dean of Medicine Abe Fuks said that the latter issue is already on the front burner. "The need to coordinate with Université de Montréal is something we think about all of the time," he said.
The two hospitals have already hired a common director of information systems, and will buy the same software for clinical services. Other auxiliary services may be shared as well.
The announcement, which reaffirmed the pediatric mission of the MUHC, was welcomed by Principal Heather Munroe-Blum.
"We want to attract and retain outstanding teachers and researchers and ensure that excellence in patient care is matched by excellence in the classroom and in the lab," she said.
Fuks said the announcement was especially good news for his faculty. "The development of a new teaching hospital site for the university is very important for all of our teaching activities. We are also excited by the fact that the Glen Yards will house what will be the biggest research institute associated with a hospital anywhere in Canada," he said.
The MUHC will also be required to keep an existing hospital open (likely the Montreal General) to supplement the main MUHC complex.
"One thing that's clear is that we're not going to have a full service hospital at the second site. It may be an opportunity to develop some diagnostic activities and some longer-term care," said Fuks.
The MUHC can expect $800 million of a proposed $1.1 billion cost. The hospital foundations will be expected to make up the difference with their own fundraising.
Donat Taddeo, president of the MUHC Foundation, said that $300 million is a feasible fundraising target. "There hasn't been a significant change in our strategy. We had always envisioned a $200 million capital campaign for the new site. Because the process has taken a number of years, certain needs have developed in the existing hospitals that we feel we must address. The additional $100 million is to keep all of the MUHC sites functioning well until the new hospital is built."
The confirmation of the project came with a deadline. A technical commission set up by the government will table a report on the Glen Yard plans early next year. Following on the Minister's request, Fuks will head a committee to develop a practice plan proposal for how doctors are remunerated to include their administrative and teaching responsibilities as well as their clinical work. As well, he chairs a committee of McGill affilliated health institutions to coordinate patient care and provide professional support and training across the network.
In a statement released to the press shortly after the Minister's announcement, David Culver, chairman of the MUHC, said that the hospital was happy to have the project get the green light. It is expected the new facility will be ready in 2010.
"We have been waiting a long time for this announcement, and will begin work tomorrow on finalizing our plans. We intend to be ready in advance of the timeline the Minister has set," he said.