The only language of a hospital should be healing

Par Beryl Wajsman le 24 janvier 2013

When Provincial Health Minister Dr. Réjean Hébert took the unilateral decision last week to pull Lachine General Hospital out of its arrangement with the MUHC, Hébert violated the cardinal promise of the Hippocratic oath. Do no harm!

Hébert justified his decision by saying it was necessary to protect Lachine's "francophone vocation." It is true that LG is listed as a franchone institution. But its decision to join the MUHC was based not only on its need for more money and doctors, but also on the fact that the physical proximity of the MUHC was simply closer than the francophone CHUM.

Since Lachine joined in 2008, there has been no reduction in the use of French. No patients made language complaints. In fact, the communities that Lachine General serves have only benefitted from more personnel, funding and specialists.

Hébert's decision was purely political, creating an issue where none exists. In fact, part of his justification for the decision - apart from language - was that the hospital would be better off under the supervision of the local health agency.

Yet the utter incompetence of the local agency was one of the reasons Lachine decided to join the MUHC. The last year the local agency was in control it wanted to shut down the ER ward to save money! Why didn't Hébert know that?

Since joining the MUHC, not only has LGH kept its ER open with more doctors, it is doing so well that the MUHC chose Lachine General as the central hub of its hemodialysis section. Quite a testament to the hospital's staff and strength.

Hébert's decision has been roundly condemned not only by the hospital's medical staff led by Dr.Paul Saba (founder of Physicians for Social Justice), but by the Mayors of the communities it serves including Claude Dauphin of Lachine and Edgar Rouleau of Dorval and by MNA François Ouimet. Citizens groups have sprung up to support keeping Lachine in the MUHC. In fact, one would be hard-pressed to find anyone in the communities served by LGH who comprehends Hébert's decision that came completely out of the blue.

One franchone nurse said in a TV interview, "What's the issue? We're here to make people well. We have enough people to speak either language." She understands "do no harm" better than the Minister.

Lachine General, known originally as St.Joseph's, is celebrating its one hundredth anniversary. Let's hope, with all our communities' advocacy, that it can overcome this "present" from the provincial government and continue to flourish.

When it comes to what's best for healing, we need to listen to the healers not the politicians.



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