Ste. Anne Veterans’ Hospital to close another 33-bed unit

François Lemieux
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Unit C-10 to be shuttered April 1

The federally-funded Veterans’ Hospital in Ste. Anne de Bellevue. It was announced last week that a third 33-bed unit since 2009 would be closed April 1. Photo by Rob Amyot.

The veterans’ hospital located in Ste. Anne de Bellevue announced the closing of another 33-bed unit while the federal and provincial governments announced this week that the transfer of the hospital would be completed on Sept. 30. The unit will be closed April 1.

Unit C-10 will be the third one since 2009 to be closed at the Ste. Anne de Bellevue hospital while the Lakeshore General Hospital in Pointe Claire remains as crowded as ever. The Chronicle reported last year that non-veteran patients were to commence being admitted at the hospital on March 31 of this year. It was announced this week by both the federal and provincial governments that the transfer would be finalized Sept. 30.

Following the announce of the unit closure last week, Union of Veterans Affairs Canada (UVAE) national president Yvan Thauvette told The Chronicle he felt negotiations weren’t moving fast enough while his union, who represents the workers of the hospital, was being kept in the dark. He asked for the creation of a committee to allow unions to have access to more information about the negotiations.

“Since there are no additional veterans to take care of, I say to the province: if you want to grab the Ste. Anne hospital with all of its employees, you’d better be quick about it because we keep losing units, we’re losing expertise and personnel. These people won’t be back,” he said.

The general assumption when the transfer of the hospital to the province was announced last year was that the facility would be turned into a multi-vocational centre under the direction of the West Island Health and Social Services Centre (HSSC) enabling it to free up space at the Lakeshore General Hospital while continuing to serve veterans.

The HSSC’s new director Benoît Morin commented the upcoming transfer of the veterans' hospital in Ste. Anne, from federal to provincial recently but did not provide any insight on when an agreement would be reached.

"We were asked to host the Ste. Anne in a more or less distant future. It will be an important vehicle for the development and construction of health care and social services for the population," he said.

Organizations: Lakeshore General Hospital, Anne de Bellevue hospital, HSSC Union of Veterans Affairs Canada UVAE Anne hospital West Island Health and Social Services Centre

Geographic location: Pointe Claire

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  • Gord
    February 15, 2013 - 19:16

    “Life-sustaining drug denied by Veterans Affairs Canada, Blue Cross saved my life” Imagine the sensation of not being able to get enough air, as your chest tightens and you feel as though you are suffocating. I was on duty with the Canadian Forces (CF) in 2009 when I received the H1N1 shot (AREPANRIX by GlaxoSmithKline) and had a severe adverse reaction resulting in PERMANENT life threatening neurological, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, and respiratory symptoms: shortness of breath, dizziness, vertigo, nausea, irregular heart rhythms, and extreme fatigue, to name just a few. Forced to leave the CF in 2011 citing medical the above symptoms and later being advised I was disabled upon release, I applied for assistance from Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC). I provided all the required medical information including specialists reports from neurologists and other physicians but was denied. While fighting VAC on numerous occasions, my MS physicians advised me the shortness of breath I was experiencing was becoming to severe for them to treat and immediately recommended I see a physician who specializes in respiratory issues. On 1 November 2012 I was diagnosed with dyspnea or shortness of breath and was prescribed a number of medications. I contacted the CF in November of 2012 who reviewed my past and current medical information and agreed I had a severe adverse reaction to the H1N1 vaccine which also aggravated my MS. After receiving the letter from the CF doctor, VAC immediately approved the rehabilitation and disability applications. In December 2012 I was told by VAC personnel that all medication and treatment costs related to the adverse reaction to the H1N1 vaccine and MS would now be covered by them. On 14 January 2013 I met with the VAC nurse who complete an assessment which included listing all of my medications. On Valentines Day, I went to my pharmacy to obtain one of my prescriptions, a life-sustaining drug which prevents severe shortness of breath. The pharmacist advised that VAC would not approve the medication. I asked the pharmacists to call VAC while I was there, as I was certain an error had been made, and was told “VAC will not authorize this medication” because a Special Authorization Unit had not approved its use for my case. Now panicking knowing I had only a few days left before I ran out of my previous prescription and may have life threatening attack, I called my case manager who's voice mail said he was out of the office at the time. I then immediately called the office of the Deputy Minister for Veterans Affairs and explained the situation to her executive assistant who assured me “she would do everything possible to assist me” and that her office and herself “had the power” to initiate a resolution to the issue quickly. I was then contacted my case manager, and after explaining the situation he advised me “you will have to wait 7 days until our Special Authorization Unit approves the medication”. I told him I would run out of the medication before this and he said there was nothing he could do. I asked why it had to be approved when the prescription was already on file at the pharmacy, a copy of the letter from the respiratory physician had been sent to VAC, and VAC's nurse was already aware I was prescribed the medication a month ago. Again, the case manager told me there was nothing he could do, so I reiterated that this was a life-sustaining medication and with out it, I could die. Without any concern in his voice or sympathy for my situation he stated again, I would have to wait to see if VAC would authorize the medication. I then contacted Blue Cross who acts of VACs behalf to pay for Veterans medications. Once she heard my situation she immediately, without hesitation, authorized a two week emergency prescription. This lady saved my life. I then was contacted by the acting Area manager for VAC, Roy Macdougall, and before I had an opportunity to tell him I had obtained an emergency supply, he told me there was no way he could approve the medication even though I could die from a severe attack before when my medication ran out. I asked him why he had my case manager call me, just to tell me that there was nothing he could do to help me and also explain the case managers complete lack of concern or sympathy for my situation which Mr. Macdougall did not respond to. I told him I wanted a new case manager who was proactive like my Alberta Home Care Nurse and Home Care aids, who who were truly interested in helping me and he refused. At this point I was now able to tell him I had obtained an emergency supply of medication from Blue Cross and asked why my case manager or himself could not do this, to which no response was provided. In calling the Deputy Ministers office to provide an update I discussed my situation with the VAC telephone operator who told me VAC can provide an emergency supply of medication. I now have a few more weeks to live because of Blue Cross.