As construction of the new Markdale hospital progresses, project costs are beginning to pile up.
“Now that the shovels have hit the ground, we're being asked for very large figures on a regular basis,” said Dave Fawcett, member of the Together Care fundraising campaign for the Markdale Hospital.
Fawcett, along with Harvey Fraser, chair of the Centre Grey Health Services Foundation - the group behind the fundraising campaign - recently provided an update on the project to the Grey Highlands council, as well as asking the municipality to come through with the funds it had previously pledged.
“We hope that you will be willing to provide us with the $1.2 million that was so generously pledged back in 2005,” Fawcett continued.
In addition to fulfilling the pledge, the foundation also asked the council to consider providing an additional $181,500.
“We're hoping you will consider an increase to your original pledge by 15 per cent. This is equivalent to one per cent, per year, which may represent a portion of interest that would have been earned over the past years,” he said.
The foundation suggested that the funding could be payable over the next five years at $36,300 per year.
The total cost of the new Markdale hospital rings in at around $70 million, with the government of Ontario committing $53 million toward the project.
The Centre Grey Health Services Foundation has been poised with the task of raising $12.5 million. Approximately $9.8 million of that has already been raised through community contributions and commitments from area municipalities, including Grey Highlands.
However, a gap of $2.7 million remains in the foundation's funding projections.
“Because of the time delay in the project – as we all know was 15 plus years – people said they've had enough and they suspended their pledges,” explained Fraser. “And, there have also been some very large donations that never came to be because of people passing on and different scenarios.”
Fawcett added that the foundation is currently looking at how it will proceed with donor recognition and said there are plans in the works to honour those who have contributed to the project over the 20-year span of planning and fundraising.
“If you look at the history, very few hospitals have been built. So not only is it rare, it's quite remarkable that after fighting for 20 years, this community finally succeeded,” Fawcett added.
Construction crews broke ground on the new hospital site in March and construction is anticipated to take 18 months with an additional six-month move-in time. The hospital is scheduled to open its doors to the public in 2023.
The new facility is expected to be a major upgrade to the region’s healthcare offerings and will include an expanded ambulatory space.
“The new facility will be much more inviting for patients, visitors and staff to work in. The building is far more efficient with larger spaces and better allocation of resources. It will be modernized with every aspect of care that is presently provided in the current facility, plus expanded ambulatory abilities, which is a key for the small community,” Fawcett explained.
He added that the ambulatory care space in Markdale will be the second largest in all of Grey Bruce Health Services’ hospitals – second only to the Owen Sound hospital.
“With the new facility, we anticipate reintroducing the mobile scope program, as well as bringing in specialty clinics. This means expanded services closer to home for Grey Highlands residents,” he continued.
In addition to approaching Grey Highlands for additional funding, the foundation will also be presenting to Grey County and other surrounding municipalities.
In keeping with its procedural bylaw, Grey Highlands council received the delegation for the Centre Grey Health Services Foundation and referred the foundation’s funding request to an upcoming council meeting for further discussion. The next Grey Highlands council meeting is scheduled for June 2.
Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca