The MUHC Foundation's Health Matters

Making a meaningful difference

October 23, 2022 The McGill University Health Centre Foundation Season 3 Episode 2
The MUHC Foundation's Health Matters
Making a meaningful difference
Show Notes Transcript

This week on Health Matters, Tarah Schwartz speaks with Dr. Julia Burnier about how donations help further metastatic breast cancer research at the MUHC. Dr. Momar Ndao discusses why everyone should know about the risks of parasitic infections. Dr. Hady Saheb shares what he learned from his 50 km blindfolded running challenge. And, François Vaqué explains why he felt it was important to join the Dream Big: Lachine Hospital campaign. 

Cette semaine à Questions de santé, Tarah Schwartz discute avec la Dre Julia Burnier de la façon dont les dons contribuent à la poursuite des recherches sur le cancer du sein métastatique au CUSM. Le Dr Momar Ndao explique pourquoi tout le monde devrait être au courant des risques d’infections parasitaires. Le Dr Hady Saheb partage ce qu’il a appris dans le cadre de son Défi de la course les yeux bandés de 50 km. Et François Vaqué explique pourquoi il a tenu à s’impliquer dans la campagne Osez rêver pour l’Hôpital de Lachine.

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Tarah Schwartz:

Hello there. Thank you for joining us. I'm Tarah Schwartz and this is Health Matters on CJAD 800. On today's show, ophthalmologist Dr. Hady Saheb launched a blindfolded running challenge, all to raise awareness and money for vision loss. He recently completed the 50 kilometers. We speak with him about what it was like to experience what his patients lived through on a daily basis, and he'll give you his go to tips to make sure your eyes stay healthy. And construction has begun on the Lachine hospital, we chat with a volunteer who is supporting the cause to ensure the expertise of the MUHC benefits the entire West Island. So if you live in the West Island and don't feel you have a hospital that can deal with complex medical issues, this is really big news for you. But first, it was very special this past Monday to witness seven-year-old Dimitra Maria Rassias cut off her long hair in support of breast cancer patients. Dimitra participated in the seventh edition of Pink in the City's Raise Craze, which is a partnership with the MUHC Foundation. She's raised over$6,000 so far in support of metastatic breast cancer research at the MUHC and she's only seven. Dr. Julia Burnier is a Principal Investigator in the Cancer Research Program at the RI_MUHC where donations like Maria's will be going Hello, Dr. Burnier, thanks for being with us today.

Dr. Julia Burnier:

Hello, thanks for having me.

Tarah Schwartz:

So let's begin by talking about the cause. What exactly is metastatic breast cancer?

Dr. Julia Burnier:

When we talk about metastatic breast cancer, we're really referring to cancer that has spread beyond the breast, beyond where the first tumor grew, and to other places in the body. So another way to think about it is that metastatic breast cancer its stage four cancer, it's really an advanced disease setting.

Tarah Schwartz:

And why is it challenging or more challenging to treat this kind of cancer?

Dr. Julia Burnier:

Once cancer spreads or it metastasizes, it's often a more aggressive disease. This means it can be more resistant to therapies, it also means that we have to treat patients in a way that targets the different places where the cancer has spread to. So it can be much more challenging.

Tarah Schwartz:

Now, when someone is diagnosed with breast cancer, if it's not caught early enough, is that when it spreads to other parts of the body?

Dr. Julia Burnier:

It's a great question. Some patients when they're diagnosed with breast cancer, they already have metastatic disease. But this is a fairly small proportion of patients. Almost 1/3 of patients that have a primary breast cancer diagnosis that is non-metastatic -so it hasn't spread- will go on to develop metastatic disease. So it does impact a lot of women.

Tarah Schwartz:

I guess this is why we need to advocate for that small percentage. Advocating for making sure that you're going to get your mammograms when you need to. Give us some advice on how often we should be doing that, what age group needs to start doing that, and how you feel about the self-exam that we hear a little bit more about.

Dr. Julia Burnier:

It's really important to continue to do your self-exams, to continue to be monitored by your GP and other points of health care. We know that across cancer types, the earlier we can catch cancer, the better it is for patients. The more direct treatments we have prior to its spreading. So I think it's really important for people to make sure they're keeping up to date. I do it all the time. I think it's really important so that we can advocate for ourselves and to be in charge of our own health care and to prevent it from being diagnosed at a later stage. I think that's really important in terms of outlook.

Tarah Schwartz:

Yes, as to I. We're speaking with Dr. Julia Burnier, we're talking to her about this year's Raise Craze and how a few brave souls removed their hair for a good cause, which in this case is breast cancer. Now you are doing some really interesting research around metastatic breast cancer, which brings us a lot of hope. Tell us about it.

Dr. Julia Burnier:

One of the biggest challenges in treating metastatic breast cancer is that often the cancer has changed its profile. Its characteristics are different than when there was a localized disease in the breast; when there was a primary tumor in the breast. And metastasis, like I mentioned, or cancer spread can happen years after a primary diagnosis of breast cancer. And it's then, during the primary diagnosis that we take a biopsy or piece of tissue. And that's what we use to establish what a patient will be treated with, what the prognosis is looking like. So you can imagine that if a patient comes back with metastatic breast cancer years later, we need an updated view of what that disease looks like. We need to be able to capture the changes that might have happened so that we can provide the best treatment options. That's difficult in the metastatic setting where there's different organs involved, different parts of the body. My lab uses a new technique called liquid biopsy, which is a way to sample cancer cells and cancer tissue using a blood sample. We look for fragments of cancer inside those blood samples without needing a surgery. We can use this technique to monitor patients, that's very noninvasive, to see if a treatment is working, to see if a patient is responding. So it's very exciting and I think very hopeful.

Tarah Schwartz:

I've heard you describe the kind of treatments that we're offering now to cancer patients as revolutionary. Why do you see it that way?

Dr. Julia Burnier:

I think it's an exciting time, because we've come to a point where we can treat patients based on the molecular and cellular profile the characteristics of an individual's cancer. We're not just trying to kill cells; we're trying to really target specific cancer cells. We're trying to target an individual's cancer profile. So it's really exciting. We have many targeted therapies that are quite effective, but we need to know when to use them, we need to know which patients would most benefit from individual therapies and when. I think that's where liquid biopsy is really exciting, because it gives us an opportunity to, to monitor patients and to take a sample of their cancer, but through a blood draw, which is quite minimally invasive. So I think it's a really exciting time for this concept of personalized medicine, of precision oncology, where we're really looking at an individual's disease and making the best possible choices for that patient.

Tarah Schwartz:

And Dr. Burnier, this goes well beyond breast cancer, is this something that is happening for every type of cancer or many types of cancer?

Dr. Julia Burnier:

Absolutely. We're seeing this really across the board. In many cancers, we're finding very targeted therapies that work with high precision and high efficacy, to treat patients to potentially even cure them. I think what's really exciting is that we're beginning to think of cancer as a disease that isn't just characterized by where it is. But really, what the molecules in the cells within that tumor look like. So a patient with a breast cancer could be like a patient with a cancer from a different site, and they can be treated with a targeted therapy that is quite effective. So I think it's a really exciting time across the board in cancer.

Tarah Schwartz:

It really does sound like it. Now I want to set the stage for our listeners, Dr. Burnier. We were at the hospital. They were pink balloons set up in a large space, there were Raise Craze supporters, media, lots of excitement. We had a gentleman named Joe who shaved his head for the cause. And then seven-year-old Dimitra who cut off her long hair, raised more than $6,000 for breast cancer research. For research like yours. She had this giant smile on her face once her hair came off. What was your reaction when you saw all this unfolding and how excited she was? And just the entire event? What was your reaction to it?

Dr. Julia Burnier:

Yeah, it was really an incredible day. I think each time that individuals and groups of people come together to fundraise and to help improve cancer research and care. It's always a really exciting and humbling moment. People use their time, their efforts and come together to improve the lives of people living with cancer. It's quite remarkable. But Monday, seeing seven-year-old girl, little Dimitra. She was so brave in front of so many people and raising really a substantial amount of money. It really took my breath away. It's quite inspiring. I had a chance to talk with her and she seems to have a grasp on what she's doing and really understand the value of what her fundraising campaign is all about. She was surrounded by her proud parents and her grandmother who is, herself, a breast cancer survivor. So it was really a remarkable event. Very inspiring.

Tarah Schwartz:

Yeah, her grandmother is a breast cancer survivor. And she was so wise I feel for like a young person. Like she really understood that she was doing it to help people, to help the sick ladies. I think that if she's so young and so inspiring, we can we can only imagine what we're going to be able to do moving forward with fundraising. And I love that you talk about the word cure, knowing that it is possible down the road.

Dr. Julia Burnier:

Yeah, absolutely. We have to be hopeful. We have to work together. Donations like Dimitra's and many others really make it possible to do the work, to bring the advances; like things like liquid biopsy to our patients. And that's really what it's all about. The work simply couldn't be done without the funds and events like Monday's and this coming Friday is taking the city not only make the work possible, but it really brings so much awareness to the disease. It empowers people living with breast cancer, and it empowers us to improve patient care.

Tarah Schwartz:

And it's all about that. I love that ending with the note of empowerment. So if you want to see those pictures from the event on Monday, just follow us on social media. Follow the MUHC Foundation on social media. And you'll get to see all of those pictures from Monday's event. Dr. Julia Burnier, thank you so much for joining us on the show and for being there on Monday and for talking us through this very complicated but very hopeful research that you're doing. Thank you for your time.

Dr. Julia Burnier:

Thank you so much.

Tarah Schwartz:

Coming up on Health Matters, the international medical community recognized Montreal in a big way. We'll share our city's impact next. I'm Tarah Schwartz. Welcome back to Health Matters on CJAD 800. The MUHC and the RI-MUHC has some of the world's leading doctors, and one of our experts got recognized in a significant way. Dr. Momar Ndao is an infectious and tropical disease specialist. He has been named the first Vice-President of the World Federation of Parasitologists. And Montreal will be host to the International Congress of Parasitology in 2026, which is a big honor. Here to discuss is Dr. Ndao, thank you so much for joining us.

Dr. Momar Ndao:

Thank you, Tara for inviting me. Thank you.

Tarah Schwartz:

So Dr. Ndao, parasites. It is a bit of a scary word. How do you define parasites? Because I think it is a pretty broad umbrella, isn't it?

Dr. Momar Ndao:

Yes, it is. I think my favorite definition of parasite is a bug, a pathogen, a microbe that will infect a human and just use the human host as a condo and decide to live there forever. That's my definition. Very simple.

Tarah Schwartz:

That's actually very simple. You're right. It's a good way to describe it. I don't like the idea of being a condo for a parasite. But that's a good way to visualize it. I think many people might assume that parasites are more of an issue in third world countries or warmer countries. Is that the case in general?

Dr. Momar Ndao:

I don't think so. Now, especially with the

Tarah Schwartz:

So Dr. Ndao, if we can get parasites from going global warming, we have to have an open mind regarding parasites. Absolutely- we have parasite up north, in the colder weather. People don't think about it. I can name you a few. Some can be from the food; that's called a foodborne parasite. And that is another parasite that can be from water. That's called waterborne parasite. But, of course, the down south, being in the cold, from our food, from our water, blood borne parasite is more prevalent in the tropics, but we have some also in the developing country. And the common one can be even; the disease Toxoplasma can be transmitted from the mom to the child. And that's a blood borne parasite, but you get it from food also. how can we protect ourselves from parasites and are they dangerous? Are they all dangerous or just some dangerous?

Dr. Momar Ndao:

Parasite is not like a virus. Parasite is not bacteria. Parasite is not a fungus. When you get infected, as I say, they tend to slowly grow in the host. And they tend to live up to five, six to 10 years depending of which species. So people should be aware and know when they have some symptoms, at least find a clinician who can help them to screen to diagnose the disease. That's the best way to live with a parasite.

Tarah Schwartz:

We're talking with Dr. Momar Ndao, we're talking about parasites and his career in leading the world in parasitology. So how would somebody know if they had a parasite? You touch just briefly saying that if you have some symptoms, what would those symptoms be?

Dr. Momar Ndao:

The symptoms might be depending if he's a protozoan parasite might be the helminth. But usually you can get mild fever. Some parasite, let's say for Chagas disease, for toxoplasma and other parasites you can get outside the country in Canada. For example, toxoplasma is fever-like. You have a fever but this is transient. Unless you say malaria, this is a persistent fever. But otherwise most of them they can be dormant. Depending now, you can classify it again- is it something living in a gastro-intestinal tract; that can cause some diarrhea, pain on the GI tract, that you can have some disconfirm and go to see a doctor. Otherwise, most of them as I mentioned, that transient, and they can live so long in the host. And the symptoms can be just up and down. That's the that's the main issue with a parasite.

Tarah Schwartz:

And what about is it dangerous? You said they can live between five and 10 years. Is there a danger to not finding out that you have a parasite growing within you?

Dr. Momar Ndao:

Yes, parasites can be dangerous. Let's say if I give you one parasite that people can get. This is an emerging parasite in Canada, which is the Echinococcus granulosus. You have several types; you have Echinococcus multilocularis which kind of a cancer-type disease when you see the symptoms. But this is a granulosus that can form -let's say in a very Quebecois-"balloon" that can grow in a few centimeters up to like 15cm. It's a big diameter inside; compressing the liver, or the lungs. The people will suffer and will only go to see a doctor. People go to get X-rays, for example. The only intervention is doing surgery. But as you know, going to grow for almost 10 years. This is just one example out of others.

Tarah Schwartz:

Is there some way that we can, as a society, protect ourselves from these various parasites?

Dr. Momar Ndao:

Wow. Big question. Unfortunately, I don't know. And there is no vaccine, unfortunately. We're working on that. We're really active on developing vaccine against parasites; it's very challenging. But Tarah, you know I loved to at least develop something to protect the world against parasitic infections. We're working on that. I hope in a few years; we'll achieve our goal.

Tarah Schwartz:

Well, if anybody can do it, Dr. Ndao, I have no doubt it will be you. You have been named the first Vice President of the World Federation of Parasitologists. Tell us about what that honor means to you and what this what the Federation is and what it does.

Dr. Momar Ndao:

The World Federation of Parasitology, it covers the entire globe, worldwide. I was on this executive committee since 2014. And in Copenhagen on August 27th, I was nominated the first Vice President of the WFP which for me is a great achievement. But I have also to thank the MUHC, the MUHC Foundation, McGill University, because without the community, the good people including you, I was not going to achieve this. I am very grateful for all of you guys. Absolutely to achieve this even MI4.

Tarah Schwartz:

I would say that you are far too humble, Dr. Ndao. But we'll leave it at that. You are far too humble. Now Montreal will also be host to the International Congress of Parasitology in 2026. So that's a big honor. Do you think that the world is becoming more involved in parasites because it has now become a significant global issue, Dr. Ndao?

Dr. Momar Ndao:

Yes, I believe so. With absolutely with all the floods, all the global warming. This was also done in collaboration with the help of the Palais de Congres. Because they traveled with me and Dr. Martin Olivier, who was the co-chair of this event. He's working on malaria. I can say also Montreal has the best parasitologist in the world. This is a really the hub of parasitologists. And I believe we're going to at least make one of the best Congress, which is the ICOPA International Congress of Parasitology 2026 will be the big event, and we'd be the best ever.

Tarah Schwartz:

I believe you. You're so passionate about your work. Dr. Ndao. Dr. Momar Ndao is an expert in parasitology. He has been named the first Vice President of the World Federation of Parasitologists. It's comforting to know that somebody like you is working on helping deal with this global issue. Dr. Momar Ndao, thank you so much, and it's always an absolute pleasure to talk to you.

Dr. Momar Ndao:

Thank you, Tarah. Again, thank you. Thank you very much for inviting me. Thank you very much, much appreciate.

Tarah Schwartz:

The pleasure is ours. Next up on Health Matters, a blindfolded run to raise awareness for vision loss and find out how you can protect your eyes. I'm Tarah Schwartz and this is Health Matters. There is something truly wonderful about a doctor who wants to fundraise for the benefit of their patients. Dr. Sarkis Meterissian did it last year when he shaved his head in support of breast cancer patients. Dr. Hady Saheb is a glaucoma specialist and ophthalmologist in the Department of Surgery at the MUHC. He works with patients who live with low vision or no vision at all. He launched a 50 km blindfolded running challenge. And with the help of a sighted guide, he ran the final five kilometers two weeks ago, and has raised more than$40,000 to support glaucoma care at the MUHC. Dr. Saheb joins me now. Thanks for coming back on the show.

Dr. Hady Saheb:

Thank you, Tarah.

Tarah Schwartz:

Okay, I have been setting a few stages on the show today Dr. Saheb. So I'm going to set yours two weeks ago on the beautiful Lachine canal, we watched you and your sighted guide, run the five kilometers of a 50 km blindfolded run. How did you feel when it was over?

Dr. Hady Saheb:

I was really happy because 50 kilometers when you start seems like a daunting task. And of course, I knew that if I committed to it, I would do my very best to get to the end. So it was nice. It was nice to wrap up that 50 kilometers. And I think the main feelings were that of gratitude to be able to do such a thing. And also to see all the support to my patients, my colleagues and friends and family. And I had my own my own kids and spouse there. So all of that made it much more meaningful.

Tarah Schwartz:

It was a very meaningful event. I have to say it was lovely to see your kids cheering you on. Now, again, to help people understand you were running blindfolded. You had a sighted guide, and you were attached sort of by a strap. How does that feel when you're running without being able to see when normally, you can see perfectly well? So how does that feel? How does that change the experience of running even though you have a sighted guide beside you?

Dr. Hady Saheb:

Oh, it's not comparable to running normally at all. And the last time we chatted, I remember encouraging all the listeners to try to just walk with their eyes closed. To realize how essential vision is to basic activity, like walking. And so having a blindfold on changes all of it. And I think some of the take home was for me is; one- how valuable vision is. Number one, vision allows you to enjoy your surroundings. It's that pure joy of being able to see what's around you is lost with the blindfold. And then also, how important vision is for feeling and being safe. Running with a blindfold, every little branch on the ground or a leaf for a slight crack that we don't even think about, when your eyes are open and you can see, become a big impediment and a source of stress for your safety. Even though we have this tether, which links me to the sighted guide, I always felt very dependent to feel my arm rubbing on the arm of my guide, because that gave me an extra sense of safety. And I was always leaning on my guide and pushing into her to just feel like I clearly would be guided by somebody who could see their surroundings. So yeah, the feeling of safety is so compromised when you can't see.

Tarah Schwartz:

Yeah, I think you describe it really well. And it was really interesting to watch you do it. We're speaking with Dr. Hady Saheb and we're talking about fundraising for a cause close to his heart helping patients with vision loss. You raised more than $40,000 Tell us where that money is going and who it will help.

Dr. Hady Saheb:

Yes, the two areas are innovation and education. On the innovation side, looking to get upgrades to our electronic medical records that help follow-up of glaucoma. Also to get new devices with the idea of allowing some of our patients that would benefit from remote monitoring of their eye pressure to be able to do so a few days at a time. On the education side, we spend every day that we're here, working with students, residents and fellows. We need funds to be able to improve their educational experience. So those are the two areas, innovation and education.

Tarah Schwartz:

You are a glaucoma specialist. Tell us a little bit about glaucoma and how that can impact a person's life.

Dr. Hady Saheb:

Despite all the advances in glaucoma care that we're privileged to have, it remains one of the top two causes for irreversible vision loss and blindness, both in North America and worldwide. It's a disease where there's pressure-related damage to the nerve of the eye leading to loss of peripheral vision, and in many cases, also central vision. Once you lose it, you can bring it back, which is why awareness of this disease in our population is so important. We need people to be aware of the risks of glaucoma. We need people to go and get eye exams on a regular basis; not to wait for eye problems to occur. Because when detected early and when treated early, there's a very high likelihood that we're able to control the pressure in the eye and stabilize the disease and prevent blindness.

Tarah Schwartz:

I think it is possible that some of us do take our vision a bit for granted. Probably not getting our eyes checked, going to the eye doctor enough. So what advice would you have for people in terms of taking care of their eyes? How often should they go get their eyes checked? Are there warning signs that she that we should be looking out for?

Dr. Hady Saheb:

A visit with an eye care professional like an

Tarah Schwartz:

Excellent advice. We're speaking with Dr. optometrist or an ophthalmologist every one to two years is really important. Beyond just checking for glasses, having a general eye exam during those interactions are important. And then after the age of 50, I would recommend that being done every year, because the risks of eye disease go up with age. Then if there are any other risk factors, you want to be seen more often and at a younger age. And so for example, if somebody has a family history of glaucoma; a direct family member with glaucoma or any other blinding condition where you want to be seen sooner. Certain age groups, there are some racial groups specifically for glaucoma. Anybody of African descent is more at risk for glaucoma and should be seen at a younger age as well. Everybody, but specifically those groups at risk for glaucoma, the people with family history and the racial group should be seen even younger than 50 on an annual basis. Hady Saheb. We're talking about fundraising for innovation and education in his expertise, which is glaucoma. He did a 50 Kilometer blindfolded run. Now one of your patients, Jacintha Findley attended the event. We spoke to her last week on the show. And she talked about how significant this running challenge was for her. She's a mom of two, she's now losing one of her eyes. What has this challenge taught you about what your patients live through on a daily basis stuff, Dr. Saheb.

Dr. Hady Saheb:

Miss Findley is one of the reasons I did this, because she is young, active, working, has young kids that she's responsible for. And she gets up every day and goes out there and takes a similar risk to what I took with my blindfold. But this is her everyday life. To see the courage that she has, and a number of my other patients who are so resilient and able to fight through their struggles and their anxieties about their vision limitation is what inspired me. To have her there that day and to hear how excited she was that I took on this challenge was really nice. That's been one of the other really nice take-homes from this experience. The patients are so excited when they come in and they hear about it. Some of them see me on TV and are so excited about the effort I made to take on this run. It's really nice. I've been practicing for 10 years. Sometimes you get so focused on the medical aspect of caring for their glaucoma treatment. It's so nice to have this opportunity to have conversations about this initiative and what it meant to my patients and how excited they were that I did this. And so to have Miss Findley there and all my other patients support during this process has been a real highlight.

Tarah Schwartz:

Yes, she had mentioned that what was even more fun for her was that she got to see you- out of your lab coat behind the desk- that she saw you out in the real world which was a nice change for her. That's lovely as well. So final question for you, Dr. Saheb, are you going to do this again?

Dr. Hady Saheb:

I've been asked that question a few times. I think I need to share the responsibilities amongst sighted guides. I can't have the sighted guides continue to run beside me, every week for a few months a year. I'll have to recruit a few sighted guide. So there's anybody out there who wants to be a sighted guide for my runs, I would love to continue this initiative. I think the awareness that it brought to those around us and the fundraising for all the work that we're doing at the MUHC and the connections that brought to my patients as well; all made this a really worthwhile endeavor for me. I certainly hope to continue in the future.

Tarah Schwartz:

Sounds wonderful Dr. Saheb. I want to thank you for coming on the show. And for what you did, it was a wonderful event and the MUHC Foundation was really happy to collaborate with you on it. So thanks so much for your time today.

Dr. Hady Saheb:

Thank you, Tarah, for spending the time on this. And we're so close to our target of 50k or over 40k. For any remaining supporters for this for this great cause, we of course welcome any support. So thank you, Tarah, thank you to all the listeners supporting this and all the other causes of the MUHC Foundation.

Tarah Schwartz:

MUHCFoundation.com- that's where you find Dr. Saheb's story. Next up on Health Matters, expanding the Lachine hospital to bring medical excellence to the entire West Island. I'm Tarah Schwartz, you're listening to Health Matters. Two weeks ago, we officially kicked off our fundraising campaign for the machine hospital. Construction is currently underway to expand the current hospital, almost doubling it in size and modernizing it with a state-of-the-art operating room and a brand new ER, private patient rooms. If you live in the West Island, this is huge news for you. You'll have the excellence of the MUHC since the Lachine hospital as part of the MUHC, but you'll retain the community feel of the Lachine hospital which is what it is so well known for. The campaign is called Dream Big Lachine hospital. The goal is to raise$5 million to purchase state-of-the-art equipment for the expanded hospital Francois Vaque is one of the co-chairs of the Dream Big Lachine Hospital campaign, he is also the senior vice president and general manager at Citoyen. Francois, thank you so much for joining us.

Francois Vaque:

Thank you for having me.

Tarah Schwartz:

Why did you decide to become co-chair of this Lachine Hospital Foundation campaign?

Francois Vaque:

I often say to my young coworkers, there are two reasons why you should get involved. Either you really believe in a close, or somebody's asking you to help because of your skill set. And in this case, it was both reasons. Not only because of my network, I'm able to give a good hand as a co-chair. But obviously because of health in the West Island is a tremendously good cause. Being a father of three kids, having an excellent hospital in the West Island, makes it a worthwhile cause to get involved. So for those two reasons, I think it was a no-brainer to join.

Tarah Schwartz:

And what is your connection to the West Island? Is it living there? Is it working there? Tell us about

Francois Vaque:

I arrived from France almost three years ago. that connection. And rapidly I moved to the West Island for work reasons. It's a region of Montreal that I really love. And I got really involved. I ran at the City Council in Senneville and did two mandates there. So I'm really connected to the community. There's something very special about the West Island. The sense of community that we have. And I think that hospital support in the West Island is tremendous. So I feel like a West Islander and I know my three kids do as well. So we're very attached to the West Island.

Tarah Schwartz:

Now, how do you think this new modern Lachine Hospital will impact and help everyone who lives in the West

Francois Vaque:

I actually think it will impact and help the Island? Greater Montreal Area because I think such an amazing Hospital in Lachine will make sure people like me go to Lachine and don't go all the way downtown. Therefore, freeing room for the

Tarah Schwartz:

Francois Vaque is our guest and he is one of rest of Montreal to go to other hospitals. So I think having a state-of-the-art 21st century hospital in the West Island will impact in general the greater Montreal. I think it's a good thing for us in the West island. But I think it's a great thing in general for the community. the co-chairs of the Dream Big Lachine Hospital campaign. It is an expansion of the current Lachine hospital; modernizing it, turning it into a state-of-the-art facility. What is your big dream in your time as co-chair of the campaign? What is your goal?

Francois Vaque:

We have a few years to raise the millions that will make this hospital which is normally at par, an excellent hospital. My dream is that we do it in 12 months and that having such an involvement in the community that it enhances the sense of community as well around the Lachine Hospital. That people get involved and are proud of having such a hospital. My big dream is to be able not only to raise the $5 million to actually surpass that amount, and do it in very little time, freeing some time to do more for the Lachine Hospital.

Tarah Schwartz:

I love that idea. I love that hopefulness. And I love the ambition of going beyond that $5 million. Now the groundbreaking just recently began. It is a project that we've been talking about for years. But now the groundbreaking has begun. Are you excited about seeing the hospital go up? And do you think the community will be excited to see groundbreaking happen, buildings going up, construction crews on site?

Francois Vaque:

I believe so. I think we were blessed two weeks ago for the grand opening. It was a beautiful day. I think having a state of the art hospital at Lachine will definitely motivate people; give a sense of hope. I've seen the plans. They're amazing. It is beautiful. And often, we are left alone in the West Island. The various governments either, they didn't do much for us. So having this investment for us, I think it gives us some hope that we can even do more in the West Island. The construction is a very good sign. It's a positive sign for the West Island. And it's going to be such a beautiful building as well. And actually, a great addition to an old-style building was very new architecture. I think it's just amazing and beautiful.

Tarah Schwartz:

Yeah, that's one of the things that's lovely is that they're keeping the beautiful facade. They're keeping the beautiful brick and they're just expanding it. So there will be that lovely element of old and new at the same time.

Francois Vaque:

It is very symbolic of the West Island. I know in my village of Senneville, we like to keep those all Maxwell architecture and add some modernity to it. And that's exactly what we do for the hospital. So I think it's most useful and pleasant to the eye.

Tarah Schwartz:

And fits in the theme of the West Island. Now I don't want to downplay the difficulties of construction, anyone who's ever done construction in their home knows that it can be very disruptive. That it's not always easy, even though you want to keep your eye on the prize. And you know that in the end, there's going to be a beautiful hospital there. There are going to be some challenges in terms of parking, in terms of staff parking. So what is your message to those people to know that yes, there will be a difficult period, but we'll get through it. Just talk us through that a little bit.

Francois Vaque:

My message to them is hang in there. I know the hospital and the foundations will do everything they can to facilitate their lives. There will be problems or they always are with construction. But I'm actually sad to say that as Montrealers, we pretty much used to it and we're very good at finding Plan B's. I'm sure all the community around the hospital will find a plan B. They know what the goal is. They know what the end goal is and it's worth some of the traffic we're going to get, and some of the problems we're going to get. Because at the end, it is for a good reason. It is for the community. It is for the health of our community. So I think if it's just potholes in the road, it's really annoying. But this is this is not a pothole, this is a hospital, state-of-the-art for the West island. So the end goal is worth the trouble.

Tarah Schwartz:

Francois Vaque is co-chair of the Dream Big Lachine Hospital campaign. He is also senior vice president and general manager at Citoyen. Thank you for joining us on Health Matters and we look forward to seeing the amazing expanded hospital get built. 2025 is when it's planned for. Thank you so much.

Francois Vaque:

Thank you for having me. Tarah, have a great day.

Tarah Schwartz:

I'm Tarah Schwartz. Thank you for tuning in. What would you like to hear about on the show? Write to me at healthmatters at MUHCFoundation.com. You can also follow us on social media or sign up for our newsletter. You can do that just by heading to our website and MUHCFoundation.com. And while you're there, you can learn all about the people and the stories that we talk about on this show. I hope you'll join me again next Sunday. Thanks for listening to Health Matters and stay healthy.