In a presentation held both online and in person at an outdoor marquee at St. Francis Memorial Hospital (SFMH) on September 8, 2020 details were unveiled of a major transformation of SFMH’s Emergency Department. The province’s approval and authorization to proceed with the project was announced by MPP John Yakabuski who was joined remotely by Premier Doug Ford and Minister of Health Christine Elliott. Photo montage (above) Attendees also included current and former SFMH CEOs Julia Boudreau and Randy Penney, SFMH Board Chair Joanne King, SFMH Chief of Staff Dr. Jason Malinowski, SFMH senior management team, current and past medical staff, health care partners from the Champlain LHIN, Health Ontario, Madawaska Community Circle of Health, St. Francis Valley Healthcare Foundation, local municipal elected officials, architects and engineers involved in the project, and many supporters from the community. SFMH medical staff were able to watch the livestreamed event at viewing stations inside the building.
MPP John Yakabuski reminded the audience of the nearly 60 year history of SFMH and the importance of the hospital in the community. He said, “The province is kicking in just under $10 million for a project that is more than $11 million…. People have asked me, what is the future of our hospital? Will we even have a hospital?” He said, “This announcement is an emphatic YES, not only for today but for long into the future.”
Premier Ford said, “I just want to congratulate and say a big thank you to our friends in Barry’s Bay.” He went on to thank staff for their long hours of work through COVID-19.
The media release contained the following information about this exciting news.
- SFMH opened in October 1960 and in 1987 added a new wing with enlarged emergency department.
- In 2019 emergency room visits had increased to 11,772 from just 5,366 recorded back in 1986.
- The new project includes a 5,000 square foot Emergency Department as well as major redevelopment of outpatient and clinical service areas.
- Benefits include improved health and safety; improved visual sight lines for safety; improved work flow for staff and physicians; a more patient-centred design; and enhanced infection prevention and control, privacy and confidentiality
- An ambulance entrance, dedicated isolation and decontamination rooms, mental health and family rooms, updated trauma rooms will feature, along with electronic access to health records
Penney said this investment which constitutes Ontario’s biggest investment in SFMH since the original construction will have great impact on the hospital. Both Boudreau and Penney thanked Yakabuski for his support in championing the project at Queen’s Park, while Yakabuski and Boudreau thanked Penney for his leadership and persistence on the project. King said she felt gratitude and acknowledged the work of volunteers, the hospital Auxiliary, the St. Francis Valley Healthcare Foundation, and recognized that the event was being held on unceded Algonquin territory. She said the hospital share of the project cost is ten percent and looks forward to working with community partners to achieve the fundraising goals. Dr. Malinowski discussed the changed standards for emergency care with more emphasis on privacy, staff and patient safety, and infection control. He said staff from many departments had provided wish lists for the redevelopment project with focused input from nursing staff and physicians. Boudreau said they hope to break ground on the project in late 2021 or early 2022. Greg McLeod, Chief Operating Officer at SFMH, said a great deal of infrastructure work had been done over the past several years so that the building was ready for the redevelopment. He added that the project schedule also allowed for impact due to COVID-19 during the construction phase of about a year.