18 proud years at the JGH


It seems like just a short time ago that I had lunch in a very noisy restaurant on Cote des Neiges with a very soft-spoken Executive Director of the Jewish General Hospital, Henri Elbaz. As the story goes, I had trouble hearing him but was pretty sure he had offered me the job of Director of Communications and Public Relations. Looking back after 18 years it was the best job offer that I never heard!

2013 ceremony in the main entrance of the JGH honouring Henri Elbaz

Today, August 19, 2019, marks my 18th anniversary at the JGH. To be sure, so much has happened and changed in all this time. In fact, my title is now the Associate Director of Communications and Media Relations for the Integrated Health and Social Services University Network for West-Central Montreal and my mandate extends far beyond the JGH. Since the healthcare reorganization in 2015, the JGH has been rolled into a health system including long-term care and rehabilitation centres, clinics, Info-Sante 811 and much more on 34 sites. But my office remains in the same place at the JGH, as it has for all 18 years.

I am honoured to have reported directly to the last three Executive Directors (Henri Elbaz, Dr. Hartley Stern and Dr. Lawrence Rosenberg) and served some extraordinary lay community leaders.

I had the good fortune to spend some time with former Prime Minister Jean Chretien. M. Chretien was jovial, warm and was pleased to share his opinion on any topic. In this 2010 photo we are pictured together with Mount Royal Member of Parliament Irwin Cotler

My position has allowed me to shake hands and exchange pleasantries and words of pride in the JGH with ministers of health, premiers and former PM Jean Chretien.

I have assisted many VIPs in their travels through the hospital including former Quebec Premier Jacques Parizeau (who, to my great surprise, complemented me on my French conversational skills). One day as I was escorting him to an appointment I spotted Mr. Chretien, whom I had also assisted, heading toward us near the main entrance. Wanting to avoid a very awkward moment (perhaps only for me or maybe for the country) I pivoted so that Mr. Parizeau would turn toward me missing his arch-nemesis who waved to me as he passed behind Parizeau. What a moment to remember!

Judy and me, at the 2013 JGH Foundation gala with former Quebec Premier Jean Charest and his wife Michele Dion

As a producer of events, large and small, one program I am particularly proud to have created was the JGH Mini-Med School. Over some 15 seasons of highly successful public education lectures we graduated a couple of thousand “mockters”.

Emceeing the 2014 JGH Remembrance Ceremony, pictured here with my father

The annual Remembrance Day ceremony has been a solemn reflection of the contributions of JGH doctors and staff through the decades. Long Service and Retirement ceremonies I’ve overseen has connected the past to the future.

I’ve also done my part in ensuring the Jewish nature of this world-class institution, from organizing the CEO’s Rosh Hashana gatherings to sending messages celebrating holidays throughout the year and promoting its rich and storied history.

Escorting Israel Consul General David Levy through the JGH together with CEO Dr. Lawrence Rosenberg and President Alan Maislin

More recently I’ve created an annual gathering at the JGH of all 80+ elected officials from every level of government on the territory of the West-Central Montreal health authority. I am so excited about our latest ventures into podcast as well as our video newscasts.

Winning a national award for healthcare public relations in 2011

I am also very proud to have won several awards for the JGH in producing some of the best news magazines in any hospital across Canada (including the JGH News) and achieved a perfect mark, 100%, in the latest Accreditation Canada review of my department.

As the official spokesperson it has been my duty to represent the organization to the media, particularly in some sticky situations. From press conferences, to impromptu media opportunities, to staged interviews and photo opps it has been exciting to be a part of this pillar in Quebec’s public healthcare system, one of the Top 100 hospitals in the world.

Getting ready for the Pavilion K expansion and new ER, January 2015

I’ve done my part to usher change through these years. Major expansions like Pavilion K presented numerous PR opportunities and so many media requests.What a privilege it has been to call hundreds of incredible doctors, medical staff and researchers along with thousands of nurses, orderlies, technicians and professionals as my colleagues. And what’s more, I can proudly say that many are my friends.

World-renowned neonatologist Dr. A. Papageorgio and long-time JGH nurse Franceen Finesilver

Not many people have stepped into (and walked out of!) every clinic and department, from the ER to the OR, the ICU to CCU, from the nursery to the morgue, through the kitchens, boiler rooms and boardrooms, from the CEO’s office to the labs and from the sub-basement to the roof.

Photo opp in the Operating Room

And what a bonus to be able to come to work with my wife, Dr. Judy Hagshi, a couple of times each week, and to share our pride in the JGH.

I am so lucky to have worked closest with an extraordinary team of communications professionals over the years. I’ve hired about 40 people in this time and an amazing few have stuck with me for nearly 15 years (I cannot name them all – shout out to my very skillful 2IC, Stephanie Malley – but they know that I hold them as special colleagues and friends). I credit all of these wonderful folks who do a yeoman’s job and allow me to shine with pride.

For 85 years this organization has taken care of, and healed, family members and friends. They have given hope when there was little hope left and consoled those in need. It now extends to every corner of our healthcare system as my scope expands too. I am so fortunate to have been able to serve the community from the JGH over these last 18 years and I look forward to several more to come. L’chaim! To life.

Laughter is the best medicine. Posing with Dr. Clown at the JGH.

Checking out the latest technology for robotic minimally invasive surgery in 2011
With my colleague, JGH Foundation Ambassador and former Montreal Mayor, Denis Coderre

I proudly advocated for electric vehicle parking at the JGH

Pierre Arcand, MNA Mount Royal and Interim Leader of the Quebec Liberal Party

Former federal cabinet minister Diane Finley visits the JGH

Dr. Mark Miller, former Chief of Infectious Diseases administers the flu shot to a somewhat nervous Glenn J. Nashen

I will always remember my friend and colleague Dr. Mark Wainberg (Oct. 2009)
Welcoming MP (and future Prime Minister) Justin Trudeau to the JGH in August 2010 with Director of Nursing Lynne McVey, CEO Dr. Hartley Stern and President Bernie Stotland

Finding a better outcome in a tough situation

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Phil Anzarut

My friend Phil Anzarut shared this with me and I believe his universal message of hope and kindness is praiseworthy:

Dear friends,

Another year older, another year wiser, and most importantly, another year. I like to think that I’ve gotten a little wiser over the last few years and one thing that I’ve recently began to reflect upon is the human spirit. Can hope, motivation and a positive attitude actually generate a better outcome in a tough situation?

I’d like to share a little story with you about a fellow survivor, a 27 year old Quebec City man named Nicolas. His mom wrote to me late last year looking for help, connections and information about urachal cancer as Nicolas had recently been diagnosed and was looking for a way forward. As has become common because of my online profile, I put her in touch with the experts in my circle and made sure she was well informed as she navigated her son’s treatment options. I received an email from Nicolas’ mom in early February saying that he had finished his chemo and was quite stressed waiting for his first CT scan, but that he explicitly told her: “if Phil got through it, I can get through it.” You can imagine how touched I was by that comment.

As it turns out, your donations not only funded a urachal cancer research project, capitalized a rare cancer research fund and bought a next generation DNA sequencing machine, you’ve enabled us to give people hope, which I believe is another incredible contribution towards the fight against rare cancers.

On July 6, 2019, I will lead the Bikus Urachus team on our 7th bike ride from Montreal to Quebec City to raise funds for cancer research. Our team continues to bring tremendous awareness to urachal and other rare cancers, and we need your support.

Please help us by making a donation directly to the Urachal Cancer Research Fund at the Jewish General Hospital Foundation by clicking here: https://jghfoundation.org/en/donations/products?id=440

OR, you can donate through the Ride to Conquer Cancer by clicking the link at the bottom of the page.

Funds are put to work as they are received, so please donate today.

Thank you,


Follow Bikus Urachus on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/bikusurachus/

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Click here to view the team page for Bikus Urachus
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Beating cancer one kilometre after another


Phil and Alissa Anazrut


Bikus Urachus is a group dedicated to raising funds for cancer research, and focused on bringing attention to urachal cancer.  They got together in 2013 to ride in The Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer, a 235km cycling ride from Montreal to Quebec City.

After my buddy, Phil Anzarut, recovered from chemotherapy to treat his urachal cancer, he and his friends created the Bikus Urachus team.   Friends and colleagues donated generously and the team grew to 12 in its first year growing to over 30 today.  Bikus Urachus has been the #1 community fundraising team for this event several years running.

The Ride for 2018 sets out this weekend. As their 2018 campaign season comes to a close the 2018 Bikus Urachus team has raised more money for cancer research than any other Bikus Urachus team to date, raising $199,000 this year alone, bringing their 6 year total to an incredible $965,000.

Phil Anzarut

Not only do they raise money, they also put it to work. Their recent purchase of a next generation DNA sequencing platform for the Segal Cancer Centre ensures the Jewish General Hospital remains at the forefront of rare cancer research. Also this year, they’ve expanded their focus to all difficult cancers, as this sequencer will be used for continued research on melanoma and lung cancers.

A few weeks ago, a urachal cancer patient in Toronto reached out to Phil. Diagnosed in 2016, his cancer is at stage 4 and has metastasized in his brain. He writes: “I have always found it difficult coping with my diagnosis for several reasons, but one of the hardest parts to accept is the complete lack of knowledge in the medical community regarding urachal cancer. It is so rare there is just not enough cases for researchers to have much they can tell me about treatment, survival and expectations I should have. At times I feel as though I am the only one researching my own case and guiding myself through treatment.”

The survival rate for metastatic patients is 24 months. This is why they are riding.

Tomorrow morning Phil will lead the Bikus Urachus team on a 235km bike ride from Montreal to Quebec City on their 6th Ride to Conquer Cancer. Their sponsors include: Tactio Health Group, Noble Foods, Constructal, Martin Industries, BDC Capital, Optessa, Elopak, McWhinnie’s and Lenovo.

If you haven’t yet had a chance to make a donation, please donate directly to the Urachal Cancer Research Fund at the Jewish General Hospital at www.urachalcancer.com/donate.

As a friend, and also as the Director of Communications and Media Relations for the CIUSSS West-Central Montreal (at the Jewish General Hospital) I could not be more proud of my friend Phil and his entire team. I am hoping that this last push of publicity can help them achieve a few dollars more to reach $200,000 toward this noble cause.

All the best to Phil and the entire Bikus Urachus team. Good luck to all 2000 riders in the 2018 Ride to Conquer Cancer. May the temperature be just right, with the wind at your back. Peddle on folks!

He repaired the world: the loss of a medical giant

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To those who knew Dr. Mark A. Wainberg, he was an unassuming and genteel character with a sweet yet dry sense of humour. On the one hand, he would hobnob with royalty and world-renowned business and political leaders. On the other hand, when he spoke with you on the streets of Cote Saint-Luc or in the halls of the Jewish General Hospital, he made you feel that you were just as important as those other machers (big shots). And to him, you were.

Dr. Wainberg was at once a man of the people, a man of great faith, a real mentch. It was almost hard to fathom that this same man was responsible for saving the lives of millions of people. In the field of medical sciences he was the equivalent of a rock star.

His work changed the world for millions in Africa, for gays, for women. His activism moved multinationals, and countries. He was a force to be reckoned with.


Presentation of the 2016 D'Arcy McGee Citizenship Medal - David Birnbaum, Dr. Mark Wainberg, Glenn J. Nashen

Presentation of the 2016 D’Arcy McGee Citizenship Medal – David Birnbaum, Dr. Mark Wainberg, Glenn J. Nashen

Dr. Wainberg was born in Park Extension and made Cote Saint-Luc his home for more than 30 years. He was head of AIDS research at the Lady Davis Institute at the Jewish General Hospital and director of the McGill University Aids Centre. He served as president of the International AIDS Society and presided over worldwide symposiums.

As an extraordinary individual whose accomplishments encircle the globe, and as someone whom I had befriended for nearly 30 years, I was delighted to be the impetus in nominating Dr. Wainberg for a local award just last year – the D’Arcy McGee citizenship medals from the Quebec National Assembly, presented by MNA David Birnbaum.
“I am very grateful that my research career in the field of HIV/AIDS has helped countless people around the world to live improved lives despite being infected by a dreaded virus,” Dr. Wainberg said at the ceremony in his humble office, where I was honoured to be his sole invitee.
Also last year, I asked my fellow city councillors to award Dr. Wainberg with a special recognition for his humanitarian gesture in donating a Torah scroll in Jerusalem in memory of a young woman, Shira Banki, following her brutal slaying at the 2015 Tel Aviv Pride Parade.

Wainberg 2016 Torah donation

“Your work in the area of AIDS researcher is well-known around the world. Your donation of a restored Torah to the Ethiopian community of Jerusalem is a wonderful act. We are proud of you as a distinguished Côte Saint-Luc resident,” Acting Mayor Dida Berku said at the February 2016 presentation to Dr. Wainberg.


Wainberg Council Feb 2016

Cote Saint-Luc Council presents a special recognition award to Dr. Mark Wainberg (Feb. 8, 2016)

When I first ran for city council, I reached out to Dr. Wainberg who was then the president of the TBDJ Congregation on Bailey. His support of my campaign and his warm friendship were unequivocal. He asked for nothing in return, satisfied in helping to build his community, one leader at a time.

Having known Dr. Wainberg for so many years I can attest to his profound sense of healing the world. He was a compassionate and benevolent academic and community leader, well deserving of many honours including the Order of Canada, the National Order of Quebec and France’s Legion d’honneur.

Glenn J. Nashen and Dr. Mark Wainberg (Oct. 2009)

Dr. Wainberg’s contributions began here, at home, and spread around the globe. The biblical responsibility of Tikkun Olam, repairing the world, was a calling Dr. Wainberg took to heart and to which he dedicated his life’s work.

His work will go on. His name will be remembered. May his memory be a blessing.




JGH To be listed on Montreal Stock Exchange: Oh Really?

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Kudos to JGH Senior Editor Henry Mietkiewicz for another creative and foolhardy poke at us gullible readers this past April 1st.


A big financial boost is on the way for the Jewish General Hospital, the world’s first public healthcare institution to be listed on the Montreal Stock Exchange—a move that will raise tens of millions of dollars for patient services. Read the full article.

Henry, an accomplished journalist with 30 years of experience at the Toronto Star has been goofing around on April 1st at the JGH for more than a dozen years, aside from his brilliantly inspiring articles in JGH News and throughout the new CIUSSS West-Central Montreal.

See all the past April Fools editions here.

FREE Electric Vehicle charging stations now available at JGH

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jghcharging EV

Second annual presentation of D’Arcy McGee Citizenship Medals

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The second annual presentation of the D’Arcy McGee citizenship medals took place last Monday evening at the Cote Saint-Luc Aquatic and Community Centre. This ceremony is the brainchild of D’Arcy McGee MNA David Birnbaum who also serves as Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Education and the Minister of Higher Education.

Three winners of this National Assembly medal were recognized for having touched and enriched the lives of riding residents through their community engagement and beyond. The selections were made by a blue-ribbon jury composed of three former D’Arcy McGee MNAs, Justice Herbert Marx, Lawrence S. Bergman and Robert Libman.

David Birnbaum, MNA for D'Arcy McGee

David Birnbaum, MNA for D’Arcy McGee

“I’m privileged to serve a riding population that consistently distinguishes itself by its community involvement, compassion and leadership,” said Mr. Birnbaum. “We are all beneficiaries of this dedication, and I look forward to this formal opportunity to show our recognition to three such individuals.”

This years medal winners are Dr. Mark A. Wainberg, Ian M. Solloway, and Liselotte Ivry.

Presentation of the 2016 D'Arcy McGee Citizenship Medal - David Birnbaum, Dr. Mark Wainberg, Glenn J. Nashen

Presentation of the 2016 D’Arcy McGee Citizenship Medal – David Birnbaum, Dr. Mark Wainberg, Glenn J. Nashen

I was very proud to have nominated Dr. Mark Wainberg, an extraordinary individual whose accomplishments encircle the globe. Dr. Wainberg has been a world leader in advancing treatment for, and awareness of AIDS and HIV. His research and collaboration have helped save millions of lives around the world.
Dr. Wainberg was born in Park Extension and has made Cote Saint-Luc his home for more than 30 years. He is currently head of AIDS research at the Lady Davis Institute at the Jewish General Hospital and director of the McGill University Aids Centre. As president of the International AIDS Society, he organized and presided over the watershed 13th International Congress on AIDS in Durban, South Africa in 2000. The courage and determination inherent in the choice of South Africa for the Congress is emblematic of Dr. Wainberg’s character and his contributions. The congress drew unprecedented international attention to the scandalous lack of access to anti-HIV drugs in developing countries.
Dr. Wainberg is also an active member of his synagogue and his community.
“I am delighted to be the recipient of a 2016 D’Arcy McGee Citizenship Medal and to share this distinction with two very worthy co-recipients,” said Dr. Wainberg last week at a private medal presentation in his research office owing to the fact that Dr. Wainberg’s duties required him to travel to Kenya this week.
“I am very grateful that my research career in the field of HIV/AIDS has helped countless people around the world to live improved lives despite being infected by a dreaded virus,” Dr. Wainberg added.
Last year the city of CSL awarded Dr. Wainberg with special recognition for his humanitarian gesture in donating a Torah scroll in Jerusalem in memory of a young woman, Shira Banki, following her brutal slaying at the 2015 Tel Aviv Pride Parade.
The ceremony and reception made for a lovely event. Kudos to David’s trusty staff including Elisabeth Prass, Chris Savard and Fran Guttman.
An impressive gathering of family members, friends and community leaders came together including former MNAs, mayors and councillors, a cabinet minister, Anthony Housefather MP along with Mrs. Sheila Goldbloom, wife of the former MNA for D’Arcy McGee, the late Dr. Victor Goldbloom. A talented group of young performers with the Ecole secondaire St-Luc Orchestra entertained the attendees. The refreshments were thoughtfully organized by a caterer that donates one sandwich to the homeless or less fortunate for each one purchased for the event.
Birnbaum Couillard 2016-03

The evening ended with a beautiful message from Premier Philippe Couillard appearing alongside MNA Birnbaum.


Congratulations to all the winners.
Read more in Mike Cohen’s blog.

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