MUHC pa­tients de­nied di­rect say on se­lec­tion of next CEO

Montreal Gazette - - CITY - AARON DERFEL ader­fel@post­media.com Twit­ter.com/Aaron_Der­fel

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.

Peter Kruyt

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