Friday, April 13, 2018


I experienced the new section at the Jewish General Hospital yesterday for the first time. It is located on Legare in Montreal.  It is not as beautiful as Vlad Putin's palace, but it is a lovely, modern location. It provides many commercial establishments, restaurants, an optician's shop. However, it is a part of the hospital, so why is it lacking an essential service?

There are many people using wheelchairs, but if you can't walk, how do you get the wheelchairs to go anywhere? Most patients have care givers or family members taking care of them. But what if you are on your own?

There are no porters there. 

I arrived at the optician's shop by coming to the section via the main entrance with the help of a volunteer driver. I enter using a walker, but I can only walk a short distance. In the lobby, I get a wheelchair and I engage a porter who takes me to the far off new section. 

After my appointment, I emerge into the vast, fresh hall and - I am lost. How do I get to the exit to call my taxi? So many people and I am Alice in Wonderland.

I see a couple of blue coats - employees of some sort - and I approach. They show me that there is a ramp down to the exit. But it is too steep and too far for me to push my wheelchair. The woman says she is late for work, but the man pushes my wheelchair to the Legare Street lobby exit.

Legare is burgeoning with traffic. Taxis and transports of all kinds double parking. You wait. That's okay. You call your taxi dispatcher a second time and you wait by the open door. The first taxi driver they sent couldn't figure out which entrance I was at, even though I gave as detailed a description as I could. The wind is coming up suddenly and it gets cold. But that's okay. You chat with interesting people and you wait.

One friendly lady engages in conversation. She wore a long red dress and a white lacy shawl, blue slippers with pom-poms and she had long, long Goldie Locks curls. I asked if she was interested in theatre and she said she "likes theatre". I didn't think it tactful to pry further.

She was waiting for a taxi from the same company. When she saw one coming, she went out into the wind to ensure that the driver of the second taxi would not leave again and she directed him to come into the lobby to help me.

We get along with a little help from our friends.

Since the new section is part of the hospital, I propose that provision be made for handicapped people. There should be wheelchairs available at that location and a means to get a porter for those of us who are not able to walk.

But I know someone will say the Quebec Government has cut the hospital's budget so deeply that there are limits to what the hospital can provide. There are staff shortages even in vital services. The other day, I heard a secretary on the phone. A patient was pleading for an appointment for a liver biopsy and the secretary was trying, sympathetically,  to explain that there just isn't enough staff to keep up.

It is only a matter of life or death, and the Quebec Government is about money. Patients - even dead patients - are only statistics. About a year ago, an estimated 2000 patients died in Quebec because their treatments were delayed so long, they couldn't be saved.

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