Virtual Town Hall meeting updates hospital progress

·3 min read

Stevenson Memorial Hospital and the Stevenson Memorial Hospital Foundation held a virtual Town Hall meeting on Thursday, April to keep residents informed of the hospital's progress during its redevelopment effort, as well as how it is handling the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Stevenson president and CEO, Jody Levac, discussed the success of the new High Acuity Unit and the fact that this new ICU can provide care close to home which reduces stress for both the patient and the patient's family.

“The team here felt that we could provide a high level of acuity care here, closer to home and less transportation and burden for families,” Mr Levac said.

The hospital's trauma room has been updated. Previously, the room had remained the same since it was built in 1964.

“Over the course of my time here, we are seeing an increase in motor vehicle accidents,” Mr. Levac explained. “We're having people who come up here from the GTA and have recreational properties – the amount of accidents we're seeing has been on the increase. We really needed to modernize that trauma room, we couldn't wait for redevelopment. It's our community that stepped up and helped us put it together.”

The new COVID-19 Assessment Centre has now processed over 20,000 swab tests to date.

The hospital constructed a permanent winterized and heated building structure for fall and winter operations.

“We've done over 20,000 swabs,” Mr. Levac said. “That's a huge amount for a small community hospital. Our positivity rate early on was two or three per cent, but two or three weeks ago we were seeing that positivity rate climb to 16 per cent.”

The initiative to redevelop the hospital continues as the process that must be undertaken to secure funding goes through the required stages.

Stevenson's major catchment area not only includes New Tecumseth, several surrounding townships account for a sizable number of visitors to the hospital annually.

When it comes to the hospital redevelopment project, Mr. Levac said they are on track but at the same time it is a slow process.

The new development is planned to cost $182 million, of which $43 million will be raised by the Stevenson Memorial Hospital Foundation's Because of You, We Can, fundraising initiative.

“It's a marathon, it's not a sprint,” Mr. Levac said. “Getting a capital project of this magnitude is not something that happens overnight. You really have to work in political and community engagement and you have to really work closely with the ministry to make this happen.”

There are five stages in a plan of this nature from the pre-capital stage to the implementation stage.

Eventually the hospital will become a 47-bed hospital with 80 per cent of the rooms being private.

The SMH Foundation's Because of you, We Can campaign, has now raised 57 per cent of their goal to help redevelop the hospital.

“We launched our campaign in 2019 - the $43 million campaign,” explained SMH Foundation interim director, Melody McLean. “The community continues to support the hospital when it's needed. We are continuing to reach out to donors and past donors and the need to raise funds. We have some donors that give $25 or $50 per month, and we have other donors who are able to generously give $50,000 on behalf of their family. It really takes the entire community to come together.”

Brian Lockhart, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, New Tecumseth Times