Since 2002 residents in the Madawaska Valley and area have benefited from an assisted living facility in the heart of Barry’s Bay beside the Railway Station. Re-christened as Champlain Gardens last year after a change of ownership the residence, formerly known as Water Tower Lodge, deferred its Grand Opening until recently due to Covid. Members of the management team were present in the residence’s lounge, but many others attended virtually online as MooseFM DJ Trevor Smith-Millar hosted a live video. Numerous business partners contributed to a bountiful prize draw for all guests who also had the opportunity for a virtual meet and greet with the new board of directors. Above: Champlain Gardens.
Dr. George Mathew has been in the healthcare field since 1991. He explained that initially his work brought him to the Ottawa Valley three and a half years ago; he is an orthopedic surgeon at Pembroke Regional Hospital. He said that as he and his family explored the region, they really loved Barry’s Bay and discovered this opportunity. “I’ve always had this in the back of my mind as a pet project I’d like to do at some point. I really see this as an extension of my work, the work that I do looking after people.” He has assumed responsibility for Care Services Review and Auditing, Infection Control, and Pandemic Oversight at the facility.
Dr. Mathew in partnership with Mini Mathew, his wife, are devoted to the residents and employees of Champlain Gardens. Their warmth and professionalism shines through when they speak about their work. Dr. Mathew said it’s all about putting yourself in the other person’s shoes; for example, looking for a place for a parent or loved one that is comfortable, clean, provides great food and atmosphere, with caring people. He added, “And how can we better ourselves every day with respect to the care we can provide to our residents? To me that comes naturally as a physician – just seeing a smile on a patient’s face having made them better or having taken their pain away – and the people that I look after [here] are pretty much the kind of people that I care for in my hospital setting.”
Mini Mathew is Chief Financial Officer for Champlain Gardens. Her B.Comm in Accounting and MBA in human resources equip her to handle the finances both at the assisted living residence in Barry’s Bay and at her husband’s orthopedic clinic in Pembroke. In an interview with The Current, she praised the Champlain Gardens management team, saying that she was new to the assisted living business so has relied on Amy Matcheskie, Administrator, and Keri Horvat, Managing Consultant. She explained that the Mathew family moved to Petawawa from Hamilton so it was a big change for their children. Emily (see photo) is in Grade 10 and says that life in Petawawa “is good; it’s quiet.” Her older brother, a Grade 11 student, was working so could not attend the opening, but their mother said that they adjusted quickly to the Ottawa Valley.
Dr. Mathew touched on the need for collaboration in the healthcare field. He acknowledged the local challenges of bed space management both at the hospital and the long term care home, and in a reference to the respite offered at Champlain Gardens, said, “Covid obviously added to those pressures … so in our own way [we could] try to ease the pressures to be able to temporarily house and locate people.”
He issued an invitation to all: “Welcome! We are open. We are here to care and look after your needs in terms of assisted care facilities – and we genuinely care.”
Editor’s Note: This article was amended on Aug.3 to say that Emily Mathew is in Grade 10, not Grade 7. We apologize for the error.