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Sunday, December 21, 2014

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JRH head resigns after losing ‘political support’

Tags: Canada André Ibghy Jewish Rehabilitation Hospital
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André Ibghy [Courrier Laval photo]

MONTREAL — André Ibghy stepped down June 20 as executive director of Laval’s Jewish Rehabilitation Hospital (JRH) after 16 years despite the continued backing of the institution’s board of directors because of what he calls the “evaporation of political support” for his part-time status.

Ibghy, 58, served four successive four-year-mandates as part-time chief administrator of the 58-year-old public and bilingual facility, during which the institution expanded and flourished, he told The CJN.

Ibghy described his years at the JRH as a period of “spectacular development.” The JRH has 132 beds and more than 550 employees.

But Ibghy’s continued tenure at the hospital appeared to become less politically tenable following a series of articles over the last few months in the Journal de Montréal that questioned certain expenditures made under his administration, as well as why he has maintained his architectural practice while serving as JRH executive director.

But he insisted that no one pressured him to quit.

“I decided to resign from my position as executive director despite the continued support of the board, as it became increasingly difficult to [reconcile] the increasingly complex demands of both positions with the added strain occasioned by the loss of the ministry and regional health board support,” Ibghy said in an email exchange.

Ibghy said that when he was hired as the JRH’s executive director in 1997, it was clear to all parties that that it would be on a part-time basis while he continued his architectural pursuits.

“My practice as an architect was fully and repeatedly disclosed to my board of directors and [to] the Ministry of Health and Laval Regional Health Board from the day I was hired… to the most recent disclosures of my other professional activities at the time of the renewal of my contract in 2011,” Ibghy said.

“This authorization was repeatedly offered me through the signature of four successive mandates.”

He said ministry officials were on the selection committee when he was first hired at the JRH.

But the climate has changed, Ibghy suggested, with issues such as being a part-time executive director while having an architectural practice becoming “more politically sensitive.”

“Years ago, no one paid attention,” Ibghy said. “I was doing a great job at the JRH, and no one bothered. Now it’s a whole other context, and I had to take that into account.”

In an earlier interview, Ibghy characterized his relationship with the JRH as a “28-year love affair” and his board as “intimate family.”

Before becoming executive director in 1997, he worked for 12 years as a JRH volunteer, as a board member and president.

Ibghy’s architectural projects over the years have included the Segal Cancer Centre at the Jewish General Hospital, the Miriam Home’s Lori Black Centre, the expansion and renovation of the Cummings House (housing Federation CJA); the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre, and the Mount Sinai Hospital’s and relocation from Ste. Agathe des Monts.

He’s also project architect for the new Shriner’s Hospital for Children and part of the “Master Architect Consortium” for the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC).

Ibghy said he would devote himself more fully to his architectural practice, but will miss the JRH, which began as the Jewish Convalescent Centre in 1955 and became the Jewish Convalescent Hospital in 1962 before finally being renamed the JRH in 1988.

“It’s just a special place,” he said.

The CJN print edition returns Aug. 1.

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