Douglas A. Smith Family Foundation donates $1 million to Mindemoya Hospital renovations

MILLION DOLLAR GIFT—Members of the Manitoulin Health Centre staff and board gather with Smith Family Foundation representative Jeff Smith in forming a giant thank you for a $1 million donation towards the $2.5 million Let’s Emerg Together fundraising campaign aimed at the $5 million renovation and expansion of the MHC Mindemoya site’s emergency department facilities. The gift is from the Douglas A. Smith Family Foundation. photos by Michael Erskine

New emergency department rebuild will cost $5 million, half to be raised locally

MINDEMOYA – Manitoulin Health Centre’s (MHC) ‘Let’s Emerg Together’ capital fundraising campaign has set an ambitious bar at $2.5 million of the $5 million cost of renovating and expanding the Mindemoya site’s emergency department facilities, but the Douglas A. Smith Family Foundation has provided a major leg up with a generous $1 million donation to kick things off.

Jeff Smith, executive vice-president of Manitoulin Transport, delivered the announcement at a COVID-19 observing event held Thursday, August 27 at the Mindemoya MHC site.

MHC president and CEO Lynn Foster kicked off the event by noting some of the history of the Mindemoya site. “The Mindemoya site dates back to the early 1930s when it served as a Red Cross outpost,” she said. “In 1982, it merged with the hospital located in Little Current.”

Ms. Foster explained that the estimated project cost for the renovation and expansion of the emergency department facilities is close to $5 million. “It will provide a clean line of sight to patient areas from the nursing station, greater patient confidentiality during a visit, a dedicated mental health observation suite, an extra bed in the trauma area, a larger chemotherapy suite and an infectious disease suite, complete with anteroom,” she explained, going on to add that, “The emergency department at this site needs to be renovated and expanded, as it strives to meet its mission of contributing to the health and well-being of all who come to us in need.”

Ms. Foster noted that the need for the renovations and improved sightlines were identified in MHC’s strategic plan.

“The Smith family’s generosity has been felt across the Island and even off-Island,” said Ms. Foster in introducing Mr. Smith to the assembly.

“The MHC needs support from all friends on and off the Island,” said Mr. Smith in putting a challenge out to “businesses, residents, seasonal residents, cottagers and boaters, all potentially relying on our Island hospitals and their emergency departments. We are celebrating 60 years as a Manitoulin Island-based business, so this $1 million gift demonstrates our continued commitment to our Island and our local health care system. Our donation kicks off this fundraising campaign and encourages others to give towards the $2.5 million target. We are investing in Island health care, knowing that patients will have more space to be treated for trauma, mental health and infectious disease issues. We need more than just curtains separating patients from the next stretcher.”

“Congratulations to the MHC team and we look forward to following your progress over the coming months,” Mr. Smith said in conclusion.

Dr. Shruti Alice Sebastian, the emergency department physician leader spoke next. “I am one of the new members of the MHC team,” noting that she shares duties along with Dr. Kathleen Alison MacKeracher at the Little Current site. “We are excited about this renovation,” said Dr. Sebastian. “It makes a big difference to the space that we work in.” She pointed to the importance of having negative pressure rooms during the time of COVID-19, as well as a dedicated mental health area and more chemotherapy space.

 “Please know your gift is gratefully acknowledged and appreciated,” said MHC fundraising committee chair Angela Becks. “The board of directors and management at MHC will honour this gift with wise and careful consultations in the building process. Your gift will shine as an example of giving to community.” Ms. Becks noted the long philanthropic history of the Smith family. “They want their money to go to a good place,” she said. “Manitoulin Island and Northern Ontario are their passions and they have chosen to support health care, education and municipal funding—these three areas meet the foundation’s mission.”

“This give will be an example, an incentive perhaps, for others to give to the community,” said Ms. Becks. “Their money too is going to a good place. This gift gives us just a wonderful start.”

Following the announcement, Mr. Smith joined members of the MHC executive team in a photo op before taking in a tour of the existing emergency department facilities.