Past Executive Directors

2008-2013: Dr. Hartley Stern

Dr. Hartley Stern was Executive Director of the Jewish General Hospital and professor of Surgery at McGill University from 2008 to 2013. Previously he was Vice President of The Ottawa Hospital Regional Cancer Centre and, the Provincial Head of Surgical Oncology with Cancer Care Ontario.

Originally from Toronto, Dr. Stern completed his undergraduate medical education and surgical training at the University of Toronto, followed by a Research Training Fellowship at the London Hospital Medical College in London, England. He moved his practice to Ottawa in June 1994, to undertake the new roles of Surgeon-in-Chief at the Ottawa Civic Hospital, and subsequently The Ottawa Hospital (amalgamation-1998) and, as Chairman of the Department of Surgery at the University of Ottawa.

In August 2000, Dr. Stern began a new challenge as the CEO of the Ottawa Regional Cancer Centre, which in January 2004 became a large integrated program in The Ottawa Hospital of the full spectrum of Cancer Services, Research and Education.

Dr. Stern’s clinical focus is colorectal cancer, and he intends to continue, in a limited fashion, to teach students and perform surgery. He holds an appointment as Professor of Surgery at McGill University.

In addition, Dr. Stern had the opportunity to work with and preside over the Canadian Oncology Society, the Canadian Society of Surgical Oncology and the Integration Group of the Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control as it developed into a National Council. He now sits on the Strategic Advisory Committee of the National Cancer Institute of Canada.

Dr. Stern has assumed new duties in Ottawa as Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Medical Protective Association.

1992-2008: Henri Elbaz

Although the ongoing growth and improvement of patient services have always been integral to the character of the Jewish General Hospital, they were especially apparent during Henri Elbaz’s tenure as Executive Director.

To some extent, this occurred because the hospital was—and continues to be—involved in developing great expertise in many medical fields, including oncology, neonatology, geriatrics, obstetrics/gynecology and emergency medicine.

As a result, the volume of patients has risen sharply, thereby making ever-greater demands on staff, equipment and facilities. Furthermore, the JGH is located in a neighbourhood that is home to immigrants from a diverse array of national, cultural and religious backgrounds. Mr. Elbaz worked especially closely with staff, the Board of Directors, benefactors and the government to ensure that the hospital would be able to grow to meet these challenges.

During the 1990s, Mr. Elbaz oversaw the launch of the JGH-based McGill Head and Neck Surgery and Oncology Program; the full renovation and modernization of the Emergency Department; and the opening of Quebec's first specially designated and fully equipped operating room for minimally invasive surgery.

The largest and most significant construction project during his era was the addition of eight new floors atop Cummings Pavilion E, home to the new Segal Cancer Centre, which opened in 2006. Also notable were major upgrades in the Divisions of Nuclear Medicine and Radiation Oncology, including acquisition of a PET/CT scanner and the start of construction in 2007 to significantly expand Radiation Oncology.

In terms of future growth, the most momentous achievement was the purchase in 2005 of the neighbouring convent of Les Soeurs de Sainte‑Croix, which is now known as Pavilion H. Existing buildings were extensively renovated to provide the JGH with space for the Cardiovascular Prevention Centre, an expanded Herzl Family Practice Centre, and Hemodialysis. Plans are also being considered to use the land for construction of new facilities for many hospital departments.

Before joining the JGH, Mr. Elbaz earned an M.A. in Business Administration and became Director of Research, Statistics and Public Relations at the Montreal Stock Exchange. He also taught Corporate Planning and Management Policy at the University of Montreal’s École des hautes études commerciales.

Upon joining the Jewish General Hospital, Mr. Elbaz became Director of Administrative Services and, in 1992, was appointed Executive Director. In 2002, his professional peers named him Manager of the Year in health-care delivery—the first time the CEO of a hospital was chosen to receive this honour. Mr. Elbaz has also served on several commissions of the Regional Health Council, as well as the Association of Canadian Teaching Hospitals.

1975-1991: Archie Deskin

Dramatic growth and expansion, enduring hallmarks of the Jewish General Hospital, continued under Archie Deskin’s guidance throughout his term as Executive Director.

Among the most significant developments during his term were the launch of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, creation of the Division of Geriatric Medicine, establishment of Hope & Cope, the opening of Pavilion E and inauguration of the Bloomfield Centre for Research in Aging. In addition, he was of key importance in helping the JGH to overcome major budgetary difficulties in the 1970s and to emerge stronger than ever.

Born in Montreal, Mr. Deskin received his B.A. in 1957 from Sir George Williams University and his M.A. in Hospital Administration in 1960 from the University of Montreal’s Institut supérieur d’administration hospitalière. He was appointed Assistant Executive Director of the Montreal Hebrew Old People’s Home in 1953 and was promoted to Executive Director in 1957.

Two years later, while completing a university field placement for his Master’s degree, Mr. Deskin was asked to joined the Jewish General Hospital as Administrative Resident. After his residency ended, he remained at the JGH and was appointed Assistant Director. Mr. Deskin went on to become Associate Executive Director in 1971 and Executive Director in 1975, serving in that capacity for 16 years.

1968-1975: Dr. William R. Slatkoff

As medical and social progress leaped ahead in the late 1960s and early ’70s, it was Dr. William R. Slatkoff who played a key role in ensuring that the Jewish General Hospital kept pace with the times.

During his tenure, the hospital introduced a wide array of essential services and programs. Dr. Slatkoff was at the helm when, in 1969 alone, the JGH inaugurated the Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research, opened the Institute for Community and Family Psychiatry, established the JGH Foundation, and was granted teaching affiliation with McGill University.

Dr. Slatkoff, a native Montrealer, earned degrees in arts and medicine from McGill University and began to practice at the Montreal General Hospital in 1934. During World War II, he became Assistant Superintendent (Medical) at the Montreal General and held that position until 1950, when he accepted an invitation to work at New York’s Maimonides Hospital.

Three years later, Allan Bronfman, the founding President of the JGH, sought to enhance the stature of the hospital by creating the position of Medical Director and he convinced Dr. Slatkoff to fill the post. In this capacity, Dr. Slatkoff was responsible for coordinating the hospital’s medical affairs (including the activities of interns and residents), appointing staff, arranging for the continuing education of attending staff, and generally supervising the departments.

In 1968, he succeeded Samuel S. Cohen as Executive Director. After his retirement in 1975, Dr. Slatkoff continued to serve the hospital in an advisory capacity. He also remained active in such organizations as the Canadian Human Rights Foundation and the Senior Citizens’ Forum.

1933-1968: Samuel S. Cohen

As the founding Executive Director of the fledgling Jewish General Hospital, Samuel S. Cohen (1900-2000) was instrumental in helping to transform a small, local healthcare institution—geared largely to serving the Jewish community—into a major university teaching hospital that welcomes all Montrealers and Quebecers. As a result of his pioneering efforts, the JGH has gained international renown for excellence in patient care, medical innovation, teaching and research.

Mr. Cohen was born in New York City where, as a young man, he rose to the position of of Assistant Director of the Beth Israel Hospital. In 1933, he accepted an offer to move to Montreal to assume the role of Superintendent (equivalent of Executive Director) of the as‑yet unopened Jewish General Hospital.
Mr. Cohen had the extremely difficult but ultimately rewarding task of recruiting the JGH’s initial team of highly skilled medical staff, nursing personnel and other healthcare professionals. At the same time, he made certain that the hospital would rest on a firm, scientific foundation.

The hospital’s earliest years were especially difficult, since Mr. Cohen was guiding a brand new institution during the Depression and, shortly thereafter, World War II. This was followed by a period of explosive growth in the post-war years. All the while, Mr. Cohen insisted on developing and maintaining high standards in all areas, while actively promoting the hospital and embellishing its reputation.

After his retirement in 1967 and for the rest of his life, Mr. Cohen maintained close ties with the JGH. In 1994, in recognition of his enormous contribution in helping to “give birth” to the hospital, he was chosen to receive first Distinguished Service Award, the JGH’s highest honour.

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