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Quebec to invest $1 billion in children’s hospital

MONTREAL – The Quebec government has OK’d a budget of $995 million to redevelop and expand the Ste. Justine children’s hospital. That’s nearly twice the cost of an earlier plan.

That investment – by a government that’s hard-pressed for cash, and a province that faces a shortage of nurses – will help maintain Ste. Justine as the largest mother-and-child healthcare and research facility in Canada.

The funding announcement was made by Premier Jean Charest (pictured) at a news conference with Health Minister Yves Bolduc, Finance Minister Raymond Bachand and Environment Minister Pierre Arcand.

According to the Premier, the advanced healthcare centre will help draw skilled personnel and researchers to Quebec.

“It says: ‘There’s a future here.’ It’s a very powerful thing. We’re very
conscious of that,” Charest said. “Apart from the fact that we’re doing the research in French, which in Quebec is very important.”

The government is contributing $925 million, with the Ste. Justine hospital foundation raising $70 million. The funds will cover the construction of two new buildings, one for a research centre and one for specialized units that will house neonatal and pediatric intensive care, neonatology and birthing rooms, surgical and medical imaging.

The new buildings will increase Ste. Justine’s size by 65 percent to 200,000
square metres.

The research centre will have 82 wet laboratories for basic research, plus a dry lab floor for clinical research. Also, the hospital’s current count of 170 full-and part-time researchers is to increase to 250.

By the time the overhaul is complete, the hospital will have 419 new single-room
beds, 216 in the new buildings and 158 in the renovated facility.

Noting that McGill University Health Centre runs a thriving pediatric hospital, the Montreal Children’s Hospital, Charest said there is room in the city for both.

“Both are fulfilling important missions. In other words, there’s certainly enough research and work to be done for both of them,” he said, adding construction of the Children’s new hospital is starting at the Glen Yards in Montreal. “We’ll be putting a shovel in the ground at the Children’s soon and we’ve been involved in that and both of them are magnificent institutions,” he said of the two pediatric organizations.

The Children’s will have 154 pediatric single-patient rooms. Former Children’s director Nicholas Steinmetz said that in a province the size of Quebec, having two specialized children’s hospitals is hardly a luxury.

If there was only one and there was a problem, such as an outbreak of infectious disease, he asked: “Where would the children go?”

The advantage at the Children’s is its proximity to adult services, he said. Ste. Justine expects to put a call for tenders this fall and construction is to start in 2011. New construction is to be completed by 2016 with the entire renovation done in 2018. The overhaul is traditional, which means it is not a private-public partnership.

Posted August 26, 2010