• Carmen Marie Fabio

Provincial government names site for Vaudreuil-Soulanges hospital

PHOTO BY CARMEN MARIE FABIO Soulanges MNA Lucie Charlebois, Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette, Vaudreuil MNA Marie-Claude Nichols and CISSS Montérégie-Ouest Director General Yves Masse anounce the site for the region's long-awaited hospital.

Vaudreuil-Soulanges mayors got the news last Friday and most were in attendance at the Monday, April 4 press conference announcing the spot for the long-awaited regional hospital would be on Cité des Jeunes Boulevard in Vaudreuil-Dorion, just southwest of the junction of Highway 30 and Highway 40.

“Within five years, for sure, we will be in the middle of construction,” said Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette, describing the timeline of the necessary steps the province must go through before breaking ground on the structure that is projected to have roughly 250 beds, but could be larger. “I won’t give you the exact opening date but it’s normal, things are on track.” Barrette said they are in the up-to-two-year planning process that includes determining which medical specialities the hospital will include in relation to the needs of the population. The second phase, 18 to 24 months, includes architectural plans and the third is construction. “I’ve never seen a project of that size done in less than three and a half years.”

In the company of Soulanges MNA Lucie Charlebois and Vaudreuil MNA Marie-Claude Nichols, Barrette said it was too early in the project’s phase to say whether it would be built under a PPP (Private Public Partnership) model. “This is not excluded but it’s not something I will decide today.” Barrette reiterated the important step was freeing $16 million from the budget to implement the first phase.

“We are extremely pleased,” said St. Lazare Mayor Robert Grimaudo. “I think this is a great announcement for Vaudreuil-Soulanges. Proximity to healthcare services is very important. We have Valleyfield, Hawkesbury, and the West Island but we don’t haveVaudreuil-Soulanges. The fact that we give $20 million every year to Hawkesbury is illogical.” His sentiments were echoed by Rigaud Mayor Hans Gruenwald Jr. who said he’s “…ecstatic. We’re over another (hurdle) in the process.”

When asked about waiting lists for medical services in Quebec, Barrette told Your Local Journal there was no shortage of doctors in the province. “Over the next 15 years, Quebec’s population will increase by 1 million. The schools are full of trainees and there will be healthcare professionals to take care of them.” Barrette said the planning committee will also take into account both the region’s growing population and its ageing population into account.

“This is news that we’ve been waiting for for years,” said Vaudreuil-Soulanges MRC Prefect Jean Lalonde. “The site is ideal. We have Highway 30, and a new hospital attracts new doctors. We have a number of beautiful rural towns a short distance away that would be perfect for young doctors to settle in.”

MNA Charlebois said following the Parti Québécois political term, 1500 doctors took early retirement and capped medical school admissions. “We (Liberals) reopened medical school admissions in 2005 but to train a doctor takes from seven to 10 years.” Charlebois said as the students graduate, the province is catching up with the need.

Charlebois and Nichols thanked Barrette for his work on the dossier and also extended their thanks to the grassroots citizen group Mobilisation Hôpital du CSSS de Vaudreuil-Soulanges for its continued work and input. The group had, two years ago, suggested that very site as part of its pressure campaign that saw billboards positioned on empty lots throughout the region with the words, ‘Pourquoi pas ici?’ (Why not here?)