Montreal gave excellent care to infants


As the medical director for Skyservice and chief of the Department of Emergency Medicine at the Montreal General Hospital, I have had the good fortune to work with many different health care groups in the Baffin region.

Since 1991, we have been transporting your sickest citizens, primarily tiny babies, to intensive care units in Montreal

For 30 years, the Montreal medical community has done its very best to serve the Baffin population by trying to offer the best medicine possible. The medical relationships with the patients are deep and longstanding and have taken many years to evolve and be refined. It is at this level that the physicians are very concerned about the pending move of all medical services to Ottawa due to begin September 30, 1997.

It is a fact that your population has a birth rate 2.5 times greater than the Canadian population and, very often teenagers and younger women are the mothers. This, by the force of nature, results in a higher premature birth rate and serious sickness requiring a high level of medical expertise only found in the major cities of any country.

We are transporting, on average, 35-60 babies per year and, given the expected growth of your population, there is a reasonable possibility that this number either will at least remain the same or even slightly increase in the coming years.

We now know from our transport experience that by sending the Montreal Children’s Hospital mobile intensive care unit to Iqaluit to stabilize these sick babies and then transport them safely to one of these major hospital centres, it does make a difference in both saving lives and making these babies live better with less medical complications.

Everyone agrees that many improvements can be achieved in the administrative and political arrangements between the Montreal hospitals and the Baffin region, but, by far the most important part of our relationship is with the two medical communities and the patients themselves.

There is good objective evidence that we are making a positive difference to the health of your community, particularly with your neonatal population. I have had the opportunity to visit many different transport systems and I can assure you that our neonatal intensive care unit located in the air ambulance is of the highest standard found anywhere.

Our medical community is very concerned about negative effects on morbidity and mortality rates (or, in other words, the quality and quantity of patients’ lives after the move to Ottawa takes place.

Medical relationships take a long time to develop and we do not want to see any deterioration to the health of your community. I genuinely believe that it is worth reconsidering the move to Ottawa.

On the whole, there is excellent medicine being practised here, and, to my way of thinking, this aspect of our relationship is far more important than adminstrative and political arrangements that can almost always be sorted out by people of good faith.

Michael J. Churchill-Smith

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