Mindemoya hospital renovation-expansion project initiated

Tim Vine and Paula Fields, co-chief executive officers of the MHC, shared opening remarks at the groundbreaking ceremony on Monday.

MINDEMOYA—The Mindemoya Hospital emergency department renovation and expansion project officially kicked off this past Monday.

“This special gathering today acknowledges that tenders have been accepted. Work crews are engaged. Today is June 14, 2021 and it is time to put shovels in the ground,” stated Angela Becks, chair of the Manitoulin Health Centre (MHC) fundraising committee.

Tim Vine and Paula Fields, co-chief executive officers (CEOs) of the MHC welcomed all those to the event held on the hospital grounds.

Geraldine Ense performed a prayer and smudging ceremony, “asking the Creator to protect everyone who is helping guide us, working here and those present at the groundbreaking ceremony.”

“It’s been a very difficult and different year,” said Terry Olmstead, chair of the MHC board of directors. “And the world of health care has changed dramatically. We (MHC) had changes in our own group. As a board we appreciate that Tim (Vine) and Paula (Fields) have stepped up and done a fabulous job.”

“We are here today to celebrate this building,” continued Mr. Olmstead, “but it is those on the inside that have been the real heroes of the year, the staff. It has been unique, tough and scary, but our staff members have shown courage here (Mindemoya) and at the Little Current hospital as well.”

Mr. Olmstead said the MHC board, “first started thinking about the renovations, probably what seems like 100 years ago. Now we have a hole in the wall (at the back of the hospital) and by the time everyone comes back the wall will all be gone. The board has helped to make it an extremely good job. Of getting things in order and getting this project underway.” 

Mr. Olmstead then introduced some of the people who did the work to get this started. “Angela Becks, fundraising chair, has helped us get to within $400,000 of our goal of raising $2.5 million.” He noted as well the Smith Family Foundation kickstarted the campaign with a donation of $1 million toward the campaign.

Work has started on the new parking lot to be located at the back area of the Mindemoya Hospital.

“Good morning friends and members of the MHC community. Welcome to the Mindemoya site,” said Ms. Becks. “This building project will target the much-needed renovation and expansion of the Mindemoya site emergency department. Highlights of what it will provide include a clean line of sight to patient areas from the nursing station, greater confidentiality during a visit, a dedicated mental health observation area, a larger chemotherapy suite and an infectious disease suite, complete with an anteroom.”

“The work plan for this project has been in process for two years,” said Ms. Becks. “Timelines and goals for both the quiet and active phase have been supported through a capital fundraising campaign. This, being the start of the final year, leaves us with an expected project completion date in the year 2022, maybe July of next year.”

Ms. Becks explained, “the total projected cost is estimated to be $5 million. MHC is funding one-half of the cost from its own resources. We are reaching out to friends of MHC for assistance with the other half—$2.5 million. We hope to avoid external financing. MHC has been prudent to steward its public funds.”

‘Let’s emerg together,’ is the catch phrase used to launch this campaign,” continued Ms. Becks. “It came from a suggestion made by a fundraising committee member, a former nurse. She explained that staff would never refer to the emergency department. Rather, they would just say, ‘emerg.’ Her contribution was welcomed. It implies an invitation to board members, MHC staff, physicians, auxiliaries, and people who come for care to participate and support this huge project.”

“The pandemic has required restrictions that have been challenging for us all,” said Ms. Becks. “The auxiliary, which so faithfully supports patient care, has cancelled their activities. It was disappointing, but safety is the priority. When things are safe, their luncheons and ticket sales will return.”

Ms. Becks explained the fundraising committee has prepared materials, both paper and digital, to share with friends of MHC who wish to learn more about the current campaign at the Mindemoya site.

“We hope you will agree to meet with myself or Judy MacKenzie, who is the president of the Mindemoya site auxiliary,” said Ms. Becks. “Approach us. We will be pleased to help you learn more about the current campaign. The MHC website also provides ways of contributing to the campaign.”

Generous donations have been received from individuals, businesses, the Mindemoya site auxiliary, service groups, family foundations and First Nations, Ms. Becks added. Others have also committed funds. “We are grateful for all their support.” She also pointed out the Trees of Life at both hospital sites are used to acknowledge these gifts of $1,000 and more.

“A gap remains. The fundraising committee must continue in its efforts in this public phase to reach our goal,” said Ms. Becks.

“Why am I so passionate about this project?” said Ms. Becks. “Like many individuals on Manitoulin Island, I have a history with this site. I recently became aware that my father was a member of the work crew that built the original hospital on this site in 1972. It was sobering to know that when investigated by engineers, the integrity of the structure was adequate for an expansion and renovation. Yes, it will need some renewal as part of the present project, but don’t we all need a bit of patching after 49 years?”

“Healthy communities need hospitals to maintain their wellness. The two rural hospitals on Manitoulin Island respond to emergencies just as urban areas do. Critical and acute care resources need to be available so that doctors and nurses can give the best care in the best space.”

“For the Mindemoya site, this is a new beginning, a time to start again. Patients and staff will face noise, dust, and yes, parking issues, even on Manitoulin Island. There will be challenges for patients and visitors, and most of all, for staff. Plans are already in place at every stage for patient and staff safety,” said Ms. Becks. “Please be ready to be patient, to be resilient, and show the grit you have inside you, to withstand all the inconvenience and chaos.”

“When complete, this emergency department will be a space which is larger, safer and more comfortable and welcoming for you, and the doctors and nurses who give you care. Please, ‘let’s emerg together.’

Dr. Maurianne Reade told the gathering, “thank you and I am delighted to be able to say a few words today on behalf of my colleagues, physicians and nurses.”

“I really value the comments Angela made and why it is important to proceed,” said Dr. Reade. “There are 10,000 other reasons, as 10,000 patients come here every year for emergency and chemotherapy need, and the need is there to provide more space, easier passionate care by staff and make things more safe. Every year we have 10,000 opportunities to interact as humans. These renovations and expansion will be wonderful for patients and for use as providers.”

Ms. Becks told the gathering as well, “as part of the fundraising campaign a discussion around a thermometer to display progress took place in October 2020. Requests from members of the committee included: that Manitoulin Island be represented, that the structures be free standing, and that the MHC logo and the blue and white colours be integral to the structures, that in the interest of being financially responsible, the structures be adaptable to future use, that the structures be identical and reflect MHC at both sites, Little Current and Mindemoya, and that the structures be substantial in mass.”

Three suggestions came forward and after discussion the committee agreed it was looking for something special, something unique, said Ms. Becks. “They wished to pursue the concept with Kathryn Corbiere of One Kwe, the fabrication of (MHC’s) fundraising display.”

Ms. Corbiere accepted the committee’s ideas in January. “After some time, she put her thinking into drawings and sketches and communicated those concepts to the committee. The structures were fabricated and delivered in April.”

Ms. Corbiere was present for the official unveiling on Monday morning.

“Kathryn, the fundraising committee is grateful for your vision and contribution. We admire you. MHC is proud to honour your work as the progress of this fundraising campaign is displayed. We want everyone to know about and appreciate your vision. Thank you for your contribution to MHC’s, ‘Let’s Emerg Together’ campaign.

Work has started on the major renovation-expansion (approximately 2,300 square foot) project of the emergency department at the Manitoulin Health Centre (MHC) Mindemoya site, with the contractor, Northern Construction Technology, on-site.