Aging Verdun General Hospital issuing 9-1-1 call

The Verdun General Hospital says its aging facilities are doing a disservice to its burgeoning patient clientele and it is ramping up its efforts to lobby the Quebec government to finally fund and kickstart its 10-year-old plan to revamp the healthcare institution that opened 82 years ago.

The hospital says it's sending off a 6000-name petition to Quebec Premier Pauline Marois for action. The campaign is being supported by the mayors of the Verdun and South West boroughs, hospital staff, patients, the local board of trade and Verdun residents.

Officials say it's an increasing challenge to provide good patient care and keep infections at bay in a hospital that hasn't been modernized or renovated since it opened in 1932. They say patients and staff have to deal with things such as cramped bathrooms in rooms being used by as many as four patients, elevators that don't fit stretchers, stairs without handicap ramps, and a standing room-only external clinic that has outgrown its space.

"With a higher risk of more infections and complications from infections, it's a big concern for us," said Dr. Jean-Dominique Gervais, a radiologist who's been with the hospital for 15 years.

The hospital says the $144-million modernization plans were first conceived in 2004, revised over the years and submitted to the government in 2010, but nothing's been done since.

Gervais said possible elections on the horizon should not matter.

"We still have to provide care for the population," Gervais said, dismissing notions that it could become a political football during an election campaign.

"It's always a political issue."

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