Palliative Care Pioneer Honoured for Exceptional Contribution to Montreal


Dr. Balfour M. Mount Inducted into the Academy of Great Montrealers

The McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) and McGill University congratulate Dr. Balfour M. Mount, Founding Director of the Royal Victoria Hospital Palliative Care Service of the MUHC and Emeritus Professor of Palliative Medicine at McGill University, on his induction into the Academy of Great Montrealers. Dr. Mount is being honoured today at the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal’s Tribute to Great Montrealers Reception for his exceptional contribution to Montreal in the scientific sector. The MUHC and McGill also salute Lise Bissonnette, L. Jacques Ménard and Sister Nicole Fournier, the three other distinguished inductees, for their contributions to the cultural, economic and social sectors.

Dr. Balfour M. Mount was practicing as a Urologist and Surgical Oncologist in 1973 at the Royal Victoria Hospital when he conducted a study of the care provided to terminally ill patients and their families. The study showed that care for patients reaching the end of their lives was inadequate across all services, often leading to unintentional neglect and isolation. Totally engaged then in the need for palliative care, he joined the internationally-renowned end-of-life pioneer Dr. Cecily Saunders and her team at St. Christopher’s Hospice in London, England, as a visiting professor. Upon his return in1974, he opened North America’s first integrated palliative care unit at the Royal Victoria Hospital. The Palliative Care team went on to publish The RVH Manual on Palliative/Hospice Care, a volume that quickly became the reference text for developing Palliative Care Services worldwide through the 1970s and 1980s. His approach broadened the traditional concept of health care to include the psychosocial, spiritual and existential challenges of advanced disease, namely Whole Person Care.

“Dr. Mount has touched thousands of lives as a physician, as a teacher and as a compassionate human being,” stated the Hon. Arthur T. Porter, MUHC Director General and CEO. “It was a privilege to translate the holistic values he has brought to this important field into our new Palliative Care Unit at the Montreal General Hospital and then to dedicate the comforting, therapeutic space to him. Balfour Mount is a Great Montrealer, and the MUHC is proud to be perpetuating his commitment to excellence in the healing design of its Glen, Mountain and Lachine campuses.”

The new Palliative Care Unit houses fourteen single-patient rooms and one double room, with soothing colours, works of art and ample space to accommodate family members. A sitting room, a therapeutic bathroom, an office locale for the multidisciplinary team, space for consultation and medication preparation, and a conference room are also part of the modern unit. Over the last five years referrals to the palliative care day hospital have increased from 1,000 to 1,500.  Over the last seven years there has been a five-fold increase in the number of interventions used to help patients suffering from advanced cancer pain.

An enthusiastic teacher, Dr. Mount initiated McGill’s biennial International Congresses in Care of the Dying in 1976 and acted as their Chairman until 2004. In 1991, he was the Founding Director of the Palliative Care Division of the Department of Oncology at McGill and in 1994 he was named to McGill’s newly created Eric M. Flanders Chair in Palliative Medicine, which he held until 2006. Dr. Mount was awarded McGill’s Osler Teaching Award in 1997. Two years later, he created the McGill Programs in Whole Person Care.  Dr. Mount is the author of 148 publications and has participated in the production of 25 teaching films and audiotapes on Oncology and Palliative Care.  He has had liaison with and/or visiting lectureships to palliative care centres throughout Canada and the United States, as well as Scandinavia, Europe, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China and Japan.

”The pioneering work of Dr. Mount is an inspiration to us all,” said Prof. Heather Munroe-Blum, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of McGill University. “As the father of palliative care in Canada, he has been a leader in the movement to ensure patient care services are adapted to the needs of individuals in all stages of illness. His relentless commitment to ensure that care integrates the physical, psychosocial and spiritual well-being of patients has provided valuable guidance in ensuring McGill trains caring and compassionate health-care professionals.”

Dr. Balfour M. Mount is an Officer of the Order of Canada, an Officer of the Ordre national du Québec and recipient of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’, as well as the Canadian Palliative Care Association “2000 Award of Excellence’.

Each year, the Academy of Great Montrealers honours four Montrealers who have distinguished themselves through outstanding contributions to the community in their respective spheres of activity, whether that be economic, social, cultural, or scientific. Today’s four inductees join the ranks of the 110 Great Montrealers who have been recognized by the Board of Trade since 1978. Other members of the Academy of Great Montrealers with MUHC and/or McGill ties include Pierre Béique (1978) Charles Bronfman (1982), Paul Desmarais (1984), Phil Gold (1986), Brenda Milner (1987), A. Jean De Grandpré (1987), David M. Culver (1988), John P. Humphrey (1992), Alexander Brott (1993), Pierre Péladeau (1994), Alexander K. Paterson (1998), Charles R. Scriver (2001), (Charles Taylor (2003), William Feindel (2004), Margaret Lock (2005), Paul Desmarais Jr (2005), Pavel Hamet (2006), Henry Mintzberg (2005), Peter A. Howlett (2008), and Heather Munroe-Blum (2008).

The McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) is a comprehensive academic health institution with an international reputation for excellence in clinical programs, research and teaching. Its partner hospitals are the Montreal Children's Hospital, the Montreal General Hospital, the Royal Victoria Hospital, the Montreal Neurological Hospital and Institute, the Montreal Chest Institute and the Lachine Hospital. The goal of the MUHC is to provide patient care based on the most advanced knowledge in the health care field, and to contribute to the development of new knowledge.

McGill University, founded in Montreal, Que., in 1821, is Canada’s leading post-secondary institution. It has two campuses, 11 faculties, 10 professional schools, 300 programs of study and more than 34,000 students. McGill attracts students from more than 150 countries around the world. Almost half of McGill students claim a first language other than English – including 6,000 francophones – with more than 6,400 international students making up almost 20 per cent of the student body.

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