Montreal’s $127-million Shriners Hospital for Children, now under construction, will include a surgical-skills laboratory — the only one in the Shriners network of 22 hospitals across North America. “The new Montreal Shriners Hospital will become a flagship in our network,” Jerry Gantt, a member of the board of directors for Shriners International, said Wednesday after launching a fundraising drive for the hospital being built in the southwest corner of the Glen Yard site in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce.
The surgical-skills lab will be used to train future pediatric orthopedic surgeons, who will operate on cadavers and plastic models. The lab will likely attract physicians from across North America, Gantt explained. The hospital will replace the Shriners’ existing complex — which resembles a Spanish villa with a red-tiled roof — on Cedar Ave. on the slopes of Mount-Royal. The new hospital will almost triple the square footage of the old facility — from 89,000 square feet to 212,000 square feet. Gantt said he expects the new hospital will substantially increase its volume of patients, with a growing number coming from the northeast United States in addition to those from Quebec and across Canada.
The Shriners’ ambitious plans for the Montreal hospital mark a dramatic turnaround in policy. In 2004, the Shriners voted to close the Montreal hospital that has existed since 1925 and build a hospital instead in London, Ont. But after a spirited campaign to save the Montreal hospital — led by former premier Jean Charest who visited the Shriners at their annual convention in Baltimore in 2005 — the Shriners reversed their decision.
The new hospital will be located right next to the future home of the Montreal Children’s Hospital and will share its pharmacy. Many children with orthopedic disorders also have other complex medical issues, and the proximity of the two hospitals will mean they will receive more efficient care.
Backhoe operators are now excavating the site, with a steady stream of trucks hauling away the soil. Two construction cranes will be installed on the site in the next few weeks.
“We’re only a month into this project and we’re a week ahead of schedule,” Gantt said, adding that he expects the hospital to open in the fall of 2015. The surgical-skills lab is not the only major improvement. The new hospital will boast a motion-analysis gait lab equipped with special cameras to better pinpoint joint problems in children, thereby reducing the number of possible surgeries and improving patient outcomes. Dr. François Fassier, a longtime surgeon at the Montreal hospital, said he’s especially pleased that the new hospital will house a much larger pool for rehabilitating children with brittle-bone disease.
“Pinch me,” he said. “This is a dream come true.” The Shriners are launching a campaign to raise more than $20 million. The organization has already committed $97 million to the project. The Montreal Children’s Hospital will kick in $5 million and the Shriners of Canada and the northeast U.S. are pledging $5 million over the next five years.
(source: The Montreal Gazette
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