MUHC patients denied direct say on selection of next CEO
The patients of the McGill University Health Centre will not be granted a direct say in who should lead the MUHC into the next decade as it continues to face tough financial challenges and problems with access to cancer and other surgeries.
Peter Kruyt, the newly appointed chairman of the MUHC board, rejected a proposal on Tuesday evening by the Central Users’ Committee to include a patients’ representative on the selection committee that will seek out the future CEO of the hospital network.
“There are a lot of people who would like to have a direct say,” Kruyt said in a brief interview after a public board meeting of the MUHC.
“What we’re doing is we’re reaching out to everyone.”
Tuesday’s meeting marked the first time the newly reconstituted board gathered after 10 independent members resigned in July to protest Health Minister Gaétan Barrette’s handling of the MUHC.
The board’s first task is to recommend to Barrette who should become the MUHC’s next executive director.
That position has been filled on an interim basis by Martine Alfonso after Normand Rinfret retired in September 2016.
Kruyt explained that he has tapped Dr. Sarah Prichard, the former associate dean of medicine at McGill and a new member of the MUHC board, to consult with various groups, including patients, on possible candidates.
Kruyt’s decision did not sit well with some members of the users’ committee.
“The patients should have a voice at every level of this organization,” said Mario Di Carlo, a longtime member.
Di Carlo noted Barrette did appoint a patients’ representative to the selection committee that recommended to the minister the new MUHC board members, including its chairman.
“So why can’t we do the same for the next CEO?” Di Carlo asked.
The future leadership of the MUHC is critical as the organization seeks to balance its budget.
It reported a deficit of nearly $42 million in 2015-16 and a shortfall of $23.1 million in 2016-17.
The MUHC has been ordered by Barrette to cut tens of millions of dollars from its operating budgets in the last couple of years despite increases in clinical volumes. At Tuesday’s meeting, MUHC officials reported that the number of ER visits climbed to more than 180,000 last year from nearly 178,000 two years earlier.
Treatment for hematology-oncology surged to almost 28,000 patient days last year from 25,400 the year before. Procedures for cardiac angiography and interventional radiology have also increased.
Officials did not release figures for elective surgeries, which have decreased amid budget cuts. Alfonso, however, did acknowledge that wait times for cancer surgery remain a problem.
Despite the negative publicity surrounding the MUHC, its ombudsman reported a nearly 10 per cent drop in the number of complaints.
“Wow! Way to go,” Lynne Casgrain, the ombudsman, said during her presentation.
The total number of complaints decreased to 1,235 from 1,370.
Casgrain later clarified in an interview that much of the drop can be attributed to improvements in the MUHC’s call centre. She said her next report will focus on complaints regarding access to care.