The Glen

outside with rights.jpg(Photo Credit: The Montreal Gazette)

Montreal is famous for three things: bagels, smoked meat, and construction. While NDG has had the bagels and the smoked meat covered for years, we had not seen a large scale construction project in quite some time. With the exception of seemingly endless road work, NDG's large centennial homes, expansive parks, and independent businesses have helped ensure that our neighbourhood retains much of its heritage and "old world charm"; the construction of the new McGill University Health Center's "superhospital" is the obvious exception to this.

Towering over the NDG skyline, the colourful windows and striking architectural design of the superhospital stands in stark contrast to the crumbling Turcot Interchange perched below it. Set to begin operations in just a couple of weeks, the Glen Site - as it is formally named - has been hailed as one of the most innovative healthcare centers constructed in all of North America. The Glen Site will assemble the Royal Victoria Hospital, the Montreal Children's Hospital, the Montreal Chest Institute, the Research Institute of the MUHC, the new Cedars Cancer Centre, and eventually the Montreal Neurological Hospital all under one roof, making healthcare access more centralized and convenient for patients.

With its large atriums, bright colors, and infusion of natural light, the Glen Site is a far cry from the stark, dreary hospitals of the past. The superhospital boasts 500 single-patient rooms for both adults and children, with private bathrooms, windows, and a host of amenities designed with both patient comfort and infection control in mind. Dr. Charles Frenette, Director of Infection Control and Prevention at the Glen says that "The patient's room can be a powerful tool against the spread of infection in a hospital...It must be adapted to the staff's needs and
(Photo Credit: MUHC)
facilitate healthy habits." A good deal of thought went into designing "the ideal patient room" that considers both the needs of the patient and of the hospital and will be a welcome change for short and long-term patients staying at the Glen.

The superhospital has also procured state-of-the-art equipment valued at over 250 million dollars that will hopefully provide patients with faster, more accurate treatments. In an interview with CTV Montreal, Radiologist Dr. David Valenti commented that while the MUHC had similar equipment in the past, the new equipment has been upgraded which will allow staff to treat patients more efficiently and with greater precision. "We'll do everything we do today but better faster, safer and cheaper." It is the hope that more effective treatments will allow more individuals to be treated on an outpatient basis; an investment which could mean a great deal of cost savings for the hospital in the long run.

tube.jpgOf the over 28,000 pieces of equipment purchased for the new Glen Site, one of the most impressive has to be the pneumatic tube network that has been built into its walls to quickly and effectively transfer items throughout the hospital. The large capsules - about the size of a 2L bottle - can move through the tube system at a speed of nearly 20km/hr. The Glen's Director of Logistics, Terrence Meehan, describes that "since the Glen is so large, materials will sometimes have to travel distances of 1,000 feet and many stories up or down; pneumatic tubes will help deliver critical items, medicine, and even blood quickly, which is extremely important in a tertiary and quaternary care institution." This investment will hopefully help save time and money, two resources that are vital, and often lacking in the healthcare system.

(Photo Credit: MUHC)

Construction of the Glen Site began on June 17th 2010 after over ten years of planning, preparation, and more than a fair share of controversy. While uniting the MUHC facilities under one roof after their merger in 1997 has been a welcome idea, critics have slammed the development from the very start. Despite highly publicized accusations of construction corruption in addition to endless road closures, traffic concerns, and noise complaints, the construction has moved on as scheduled and the site is slotted to begin patient transfers in March 2015.


(Photo Credit: The National Post)

With the patient transfers fast approaching, and the opening of the emergency room soon behind that, new concerns are being voiced that have the potential to affect all patients and their families. While the hospital has been built on a site that has the potential to be very accessible, it is currently quite difficult to reach the site from the adjacent Vendome Metro and AMT rail tacks. The city of NDG has been pushing for a wheelchair accessible tunnel that would connect the transit system to the hospital making it easier for patients to access the Glen Site. This proposal has so far been denied by the city much to the displeasure of residents and future Glen patients. NDG /CDN borough Mayor Russell Copeman was quoted in a CTV article as saying "We are building a state-of-the-art $1.3 billion healthcare facility that people with reduced mobility can't get to without going upstairs and over train tracks...It's nonsense." Future road closures in the area and a number of scheduled construction projects also have residents and patients questioning just how "super" this hospital will really be.

While the erection of the new superhospital will bring people and business to NDG, and will make receiving medical care more accessible to its residents, it is yet to be seen whether government healthcare budget cuts will affect the success of this new state-of-the-art Glen Site. It will also be important to see how the hospital effects the way of life that we have grown accustomed to in NDG once it begins full operation in April 2015.

The MUHC has released a Transfer Timeline and has assembled Important Transfer Information that should be consulted if you or a loved one is requiring medical services. Additional information about the MUHC and the Glen Site, can be found on their website.



I have a big concern for the pneumatic tube network because just like new types of plumbing, everything needs to be tested for many years before it is deemed full-proof. How disastrous, or even dangerous and unsanitary would it be for a blood sample to burst inside a wall cavity (or worse, a blood sample from a patient that is ill).

I think in theory the pneumatic tube network is good but it shouldn't have been used in a hospital. There are just some things that just need to be tended to by human hands.

I really enjoyed reading your article since I always hear talk about this 'super hospital' but couldn't have been bothered to look into it. Thanks for bringing this to everyone's attention.

You write very well.

Love the first line! Made me literally "LOL"

Good idea for a topic! It's so relevant since it's opening so soon! It's sure to be a big attraction in the coming weeks.

Your writing is really smooth as well!

Very well done and thorough work and research is obvious. And I agree that I keep hearing about this super hospital and am wondering what the heck is going on with it.You know you're stuff :)

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