What if Our Hospital Closed or Moved Away?

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I don’t follow much news from Quebec. Even though I grew up in the Eastern Townships I am so wrapped up in my own community I missed one important news item. The Queen Victoria Hospital in Montreal is closing on Sunday. I don’t have many fond memories of the 122-year-old hospital located on Mount Royal. My first memory as a 2-year-old was sitting on a cast iron hospital bed while my Mother was playing solitaire. There were no children allowed in the hospital in those days, but after my Mother gave birth to me she had no idea who anyone was. The doctors hoped some memory might come back into her life seeing me. But she did not remember anything for a very long time.

Then it was tuberculosis shots for me as my Mother had the horrible disease from age 14-19, and her children had to be protected. For a time she was put in an iron lung in The Royal Victoria as they thought she had polio. In reality, she had lymphoma on the spine, which was to be later diagnosed when my sister passed away in the 90’s– long after my Mother had died. For years I lived in the shadow of the aging and turreted 19th-century hospital, and each day it gave me the shivers as I waited for the bus.

At 7 a.m. on Sunday, ambulances will begin ferrying patients to the new McGill University Health Centre “super hospital” 6.3 kilometres away. Friends of mine who live outside the city must now go to the new “super hospital’ in Montreal or try switching to possibly an easier solution in nearby Sherbrooke, Quebec. I feel for them, as some are elderly and it is a challenge to drive in heavy city traffic and find your way around. Old dogs seldom learn new tricks, and I for one would be concerned if I was in the same place. There is a similar community hospital to ours in Cowansville, Quebec, but like most small hospitals it can’t do what the new “super hospitals” do.

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Community hospitals are under siege right now. Unlike large medical centers or hospital systems, they do not have the clout to qualify for ‘big financial support’ any longer. Small town hospitals have now become ill-equipped for the vast changes that are sweeping through the industry.

We often forget how important a hospital is until it’s shut down like the Royal Victoria. Although moving to a ‘super hospital’ is different, when any community hospital closes, people lose a major employer. Patients then have to drive to a larger city for care, like what is happening to my friends in Cowansville.

Rural hospitals struggle to keep their doors open. Our whole community benefits from services such as clinic appointments, treatment for minor injuries, physiotherapy and x-rays. Inpatient beds are used to help older people who need rehabilitation and support before going home. Patients who need palliative and end-of-life care can also be offered a local service close to their home and family.

Although talk has surfaced to turn the Royal Vic into private-use condominiums, decision-makers are under pressure to keep its use public. McGill University is proposing to redevelop the site into an academic site. The closure of the Royal Victoria Hospital should be a reminder for us all that the hospital institution is in the midst of massive and disruptive change. Let us not forget to support our Carleton Place Hospital when we can, as a hospital’s closure or relocation can be the death knell for an entire community.

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If every single person gave a dollar this week in town that would be a start

Carleton Place & District Memorial Hospital Foundation

211 Lake Ave East
Carleton Place, On
K7C 1J4

Mail a cheque payable to the CPDMH Foundation to 211 Lake Avenue East, Carleton Place, ON., K7C 1J4
Print a Donation Form and fax it to 613-257-5197
Visit the Foundation Office at the Carleton Place & District Memorial Hospital located at 211 Lake Avenue East, Carleton Place, ON., K7C 1J4
Credit Card (MasterCard and Visa) donations are accepted by phone: 613-257-2200 ext 856

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

2 responses »

  1. Hi Linda,
    I am a Professor in Family Medicine at McMaster University and making a movie documentary (not for profit) about a very wonderful family doctor May Cohen who was the mother of women’s health in Canada. She was born at the RVH in Montreal in 1931 and I would love to use this postcard in the movie. Can you tell me where i can get permission for this postcard?
    Thanks,
    Cheryl

    Liked by 1 person

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