Who Killed the Queen?

Who Killed the Queen?: The Story of a Community Hospital and How to Fix Public Health Care

  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Who Killed the Queen?
    Book Description:

    Using the dramatic and entertaining 100-year history of the Queen Elizabeth as a base, Who Killed the Queen? investigates Canada's mass closures of hospitals and hospital beds between 1994 and 1998. The book shows that the resulting 20% loss of beds - a figure unparalleled in the history of any other industrialized country - continues to affect hospital and health care in every province. Holly Dressel offers strong evidence as to who and what was responsible for the closures and also provides well-supported, international assessments of the current quality of the Canadian health care system, arguing that it can not only be saved but strengthened.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-7465-6
    Subjects: Health Sciences

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. ix-xvii)

    This book was originally conceived to commemorate the life and death of a small but famous Montreal hospital, the Queen Elizabeth. Much of the history of this community hospital, established in the late 19th century, is typical of hundreds of other hospitals across Canada, but the Queen Elizabeth was also the site of a worldwide transformation in the practice of anesthesiology and the birthplace of many innovations, such as Canada’s first Intensive Care Unit and first use of pre-operative antibiotics. Its sudden closing in 1995, as part of the widespread hospital closures and health care cutbacks of that period, caused...

  4. Illustrations
    (pp. xviii-2)
  5. 1 Serving the Queen
    (pp. 3-82)

    When the Quebec government announced that nine, and then eight, hospitals in the Montreal area were going to be summarily closed for budgetary reasons in 1995, health care in Montreal was forever changed. In fact, although few Canadians have realized this even today, hospital care all across the country was being violently downsized during this period. A largely unanalyzed and widespread initiative to cut hospitals and hospital care in almost every province continues to haunt Canadian efforts to maintain an effective and humane universal health care system. But in 1995, when Montreal experienced the first closures, the news set off...

  6. 2 Growing a Culture
    (pp. 83-125)

    The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, like so many other small, community hospitals across the country, owes much of its existence to the energy of one person – Alexander R. Griffith, a general practioner. He was a small, bespectacled man – quiet, humorous, religious, unworldly and untraveled, and oddly unambitious for someone who helped found a hospital and a dynasty of doctors. He came from unremarkable people who were farmers in central Ontario and later moved to North Dakota. His education was average. If there was anything unusual about Alexander Griffith and Mary Milne, the girl he married in 1888, it was their devotion...

  7. 3 Family Medicine
    (pp. 126-179)

    No history featuring the Montreal Homeopathic/Queen Elizabeth Hospital would be complete without a trip to see a beautiful, turn-of-the-century cottage in the Laurentians, the lake and mountain country north of the city. The old pine building is tall and narrow with a deep gallery wrapped around two sides; it’s a perfect example of turn-of-the-century rustic style. It has a native stone fireplace in the living room and a peeled-bark rustic stairway to the uninsulated sleeping rooms upstairs. The wide, shady porch is lavishly furnished with swings, hammocks, and tables capable of seating twelve or more. Smelling of balsam and wood...

  8. 4 Medical Bills
    (pp. 180-242)

    A hospital researcher and doctor such as Harold Griffith could bring about revolutionary advances only if the hospital where he worked received unstinting social support and generous and dependable funding. Traditionally, the Homeopathic had depended for that support on an interestingly diverse number of sources, including generalized charity, often of a religious nature; user fees from those who could afford it; and unpredictable influxes of occasional large gifts from wealthy and influential members of society. These contributions were supplemented by small, steady, and therefore increasingly vital annual governmental stipends, both municipal and provincial. Such support naturally fluctuated from year to...

  9. 5 The Queen Must Die
    (pp. 243-310)

    The Queen Elizabeth, like every other old private hospital in Canada, adjusted with as much grace as possible to the new regime of all-public funding that began in the 1970s. It is to its credit that its pleasure in continuing to be of service was at least equal to its grief over the loss of its autonomy and many of its traditions. Throughout the 1970s, as previously mentioned, that grief is clearly expressed in internal documents. In 1969, medical staff, that is, orderlies, nurses, and other hospital workers, were unionized to become employees of the state, official civil servants, which...

  10. 6 Social Pathologies
    (pp. 311-367)

    Earlier chapters in this book have pointed out that our health care systems are faced with funding what seems to be a never-ending demand for treatments that require expensive technological interventions and pharmaceutical products. Hospital administrations and various levels of government bureaucracies have responded to these rising costs by continuously tinkering with one side of the health care equation: sources of funding. As the recent history of Queen Elizabeth and so many other Canadian hospitals illustrates, persisting in this method of control means that funders everywhere must try to reduce patient load by closing hospital beds – essentially denying care – as...

  11. 7 Long Live the Queen
    (pp. 368-412)

    Looking at the early history of a single modern hospital is instructive when we consider our current and pressing health care issues. The choices that some of the pioneers of hospital care once made can help us to assess the options available today. It’s surprisingly edifying to read what an experienced doctor like Harold Griffith thought of the middle years of medical history, the decades between the two World Wars. Although it seems to us a Dark Ages, with far too few antibiotics and anesthetics, no steroids, Viagra, Prozac, or cholesterol-lowering drugs – and not even a thought of MRIS and...

  12. Afterword
    (pp. 413-418)

    When I began this book, I thought I was going to have a complete vacation from my former interests, which in recent years had focused on the sustainability of natural systems. In 2002, I co-authored a book with Dr David Suzuki on whether there are ways to sustain the planet’s beleaguered biological systems over the long term. To our surprise, we found out there are already established ways that people can live that can enable us all to survive on our overheated, overused little planet for many centuries to come, although they require some serious shifts in cultural and especially...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 419-446)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 447-462)
  15. Index
    (pp. 463-471)