New executive director takes over health-care board

Lisa Tompkins feel confident the helm of the Haliburton Highlands Health Services Foundation is in good hands under the stewardship of Melanie Klodt Wong.

Tompkins spent 20 years with the foundation, the last five as executive director after 15 years as a volunteer member of the board. She is retiring and and has passed the torch to Klodt Wong, who has taken the reins as the foundation’s new executive director.

And Tompkins said she’d thrilled Klodt Wong was chosen to be her replacement.

“She’s really going to take this foundation forward,” she said. “Melanie has learned a lot about the organization very quickly and I have the utmost confidence she’s going to keep doing great things here.”

Klodt Wong exhibits an eagerness to delve face-and-eyes into her role at the foundation which is a conduit between the community and its health care services.

“I’m feeling very supported as I look to what we’re going to do next and what’s coming,” Klodt Wong said.

Klodt Wong grew up in a rural community in the Niagara region. But she would cottage and spend a lot of time in the area when she was younger, she said.

“My understanding of community and how vast this community is ... I have a good understanding of that,” she said of the unique mixture of full-time and seasonal residents.

“I am enjoying learning and meeting new people and building relationships within the community. I’ve had the good fortune of working with such a supportive board of directors. Lisa Tompkins has been fantastic transitioning over with me.”

Tompkins said she’ll miss her involvement with the foundation, and she’ll maintain some form of connection as part of the public.

“I’ve really seen how this very generous community has time and time again, year over year, supported quality health care in this community,” she said.

That community support makes the role of executive director easier.

“It’s really knitted into the fabric of this community,” Tompkins said.

Klodt Wong said there’s already been so much work done over the years to build a fine health care system and important community services. The foundation just launched its annual holiday season fundraising campaign.

Some of the priorities for the campaign include a nurse call-bell system for long-term care homes which will improve communications and help people feel more secure in their environments. The foundation also has its eye on new smart intravenous (IV) pumps.

“We’re raising funds for both of those major things, as well as community services,” she said.

Community services like Meals on Wheels have made more of an impact in light of heightened food insecurity and the current tighter economy. To that end, the foundation is subsidizing the program that delivers food to senior citizens and people with disabilities.

“This is a big time of year for us,” Klodt Wong said. “For getting funds for big projects and the hospital. We raise a lot of money around the holidays.”

The foundation hosts an online 50/50 lottery each month, and Klodt Wong said this time of year presents an opportunity for people to gift tickets to family and friends.

“We have some really big goals and we want to raise more money than we have in the past,” she said. “We have a few different options and different ways people can give.”

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James Matthews, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Minden Times