Think Twice Before You Make a Donation to Your Hospital Foundation

Lettre d'opinion transmise le 19 mai 2017 à The Gazette


Diane Francœur, MD
President, Fédération des médecins spécialistes du Québec
President, FMSQ Foundation


Think Twice Before You Make a Donation to Your Hospital Foundation

My son had a very bad skiing accident when he was 15 years old, following which he developed a serious complication called femoral head necrosis. This meant that his bone was degenerating and there wasn't much choice in the way of treatment other than a hip replacement. This would have been a disaster for a young athlete, an acrobatic skier no less, whose dreams would die along with his faith in life. But, things turned around when we met Dr Edward Harvey at the Montreal General Hospital and he proposed surgery involving a fibular graft, even though he warned us that it was very risky. At the time, he was the only orthopedic surgeon performing this operation in Quebec, as well as the best in Canada and the United States probably. Thanks to my own position and my prior academic career, I know a lot of people in the medical field and I would not have had any problems finding the best surgeon in the States for this really complicated surgery. Thankfully, I did not have to do so since he was right here in my home town !

We are five years down the road, and when I accompany my son for his annual follow-up visit, I see a phantom hospital and that is really sad. The money is gone, the physicians and staff do what they can with the same passion, but without any money. You can feel the budget cuts everywhere, in every department.

My son is fine and back on his skis. Every winter, we celebrate our good luck in having such a great surgeon in Quebec. But I'm afraid we might lose him. Why should he stay if he has no money to continue his research, no operating room time and no beds for his patients? Will he find that his professional success lies outside of Quebec's borders ?

This time, there won't be a big exodus of physicians such as we had before. However, losing the only specialist who was doing all this great work would be deplorable, especially when the MUHC could have made sure he stayed on if they did not have to pay for their bad decisions under Porter. (Wasn't Porter friends with the people at the top now ?) The MUHC is dying and so will its medical community if nothing is done.

Every year, I happily sign my donation cheque to the MGH Foundation, dedicating it to Dr Harvey's research lab, with gratitude after all we went through. But, I will stop doing so if ever the CEO of a "hospital-conglomerate" sits on the Foundation's board. I'm sorry, but I can't trust these guys. Not only are they appointed by the Minister of Health and do only what he tells them to, but they are not allowed to speak or even have any opinions. This is not acceptable in a democracy.

Thank you, Dr Harvey. And many thanks to everyone at the Montreal General. My family and I will have you in our hearts forever.