All County, All the Time Since 2010 MAKE THIS YOUR PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY HOME...PAGE!  Wednesday, July 24th, 2024

Bidding for the build erupts in million dollar-plus support for hospital

Story and photos by Sharon Harrison
Not only did a generous community come through at the Bid for the Build art auction held at the Crystal Palace Saturday night, but the Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Auxiliary also moved forward with a significant contribution totalling $1.1 million.

One night, a full house, much artwork and many bids was the theme of a special evening as eager bidders and a beautiful space filled with art enthusiasts and art made for an elegant occasion with proceeds raised going to the Back the Build, an on-going fundraising campaign to support the new County hospital build.

Specifically, all funds raised at the one-night-only auction will go directly to purchasing a computerized tomography (CT) scanner at a cost of about $3 million, with the piece of medical equipment being a first in County history, to be featured as a new service in the new hospital.

“In 2021/2022 alone, patients from Prince Edward County were referred to other regional hospitals for CT scans over 2,100 times. These leading-edge diagnostic technologies, firsts for our hospital and community, will revolutionize local healthcare options for our neighbours, friends and families,” said Shannon Coull, Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Foundation (PECMHF) executive director.

“This is a service that will be provided  for the first time in our community and in our hospital’s history. That’s pretty amazing when you think about it. We are making history.”

Coull said that as of last Friday, $2.6 million of the $3 million goal had been raised (with $400,000 left to raise), and she added the evening’s sales are not included in the $2.6 million figure. However, what is included in the $2.6 million is a $1 million commitment from the Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, news that was received by the room with much cheering and loud applause.

The event hosted by the foundation, featured some 85 curated works of art (paintings, sculpture and prints, also needlepoint, photos, etchings, lithograph, woodcuts and more), contemporary, historical and everything in between by professional artists, local and Canada-wide, catering to different levels of budget, in both the live auction and the silent auction.

The low, intense setting sun made for some challenging yet interesting viewing as it poured through the many windows of the glass building.

Contributing works to the gala evening were six local galleries, Mad Dog Gallery, Maison Depoivre, Guildworks, Oeno Gallery, Hatch Gallery and 2gallery, representing their contributing artists all of whom donated the paintings and works of art, where each gallery committed to collecting at least 10 pieces to be auctioned off.

Participating galleries had each denoted the starting bid levels for the works, resulting in an opportunity for art lovers to bid upon art that is accessible and highly collectible, all while raising money to support the Back the Build campaign, Coull said.

Untitled #18-18 (2018), a 50×76″ oil on canvas by Mike Smalley with a lot estimate of $4,000-$6,500.

The highlight of the evening was the live auction where 30 hotly anticipated works of art were on the block by auctioneer Julie Riches with Riches Appraisals and Consult (who also donated her time and expertise), captivating attendees with her entertaining banter and rapid-calling style, friendly and at times funny, ensuring the evening moved along swiftly and smoothly, but also enjoyably.

Graham Metson’s 2007 ‘Personage’, a 62×44″ acrylic on canvas, with a bid estimate of $11,000-$18,000, sold on its starting bid of $5,000.

Whether it was a 2024 original poem by Margaret Atwood, various works by Charles Pachter, or one of the largest pieces in the auction by Graham Metson, price guide estimates in the live auction ranged from $1,300 on the low end, right up to $45,000. And while some of the higher priced pieces failed to secure bids, there were many that did, including representation from local artists such as Andrew Innes, Margaret McFetridge, Celia Sage and Laurie Gruer.

Consisting of a further 55 pieces of art, the silent auction was staggered over the course of the evening in three parcels, each closing at different times allowing patrons to bid and re-bid on pieces as the live auction proceeded in the background.

Price points in the silent auction were more affordable for some with price guide estimates starting as low as $250 (all HST exempt, where all donations received a tax receipt) and featuring an array of works and artists, from Andrew McLuhan, Gerry Jenkison and Stewart Jones, to Carlos Delgado, Graham Keenan, Daniel Hughes and Gilles Miramontes, among an extensive and impressive list.

With an opening bid of $6,000, one lucky bidder got to take home Sandra Meigs’ ‘Room for Mystics 1’ for just $7,000 (bid estimate was $15,000-$25,000). This 2017 acrylic on canvas (57×72“) is one of a series of 30 paintings.

“The competition will be fierce as attendees outbid each other for once-in-a-lifetime art experiences while supporting the PECMHFs Back the Build campaign, and collectors will vie for their chance to bid on an original Charles Pachter painting, just one of many highlights of the evening,” Coull said.

The catalogue of works was available for review online for two months in the run-up to the event where online bids were accepted.

A similar art auction held five years ago in May 2019 raised $118,000 for the Back the Build campaign.

“The 2024 edition of this exciting fundraising auction aims to exceed that success and have an even greater impact on healthcare services in the County,” Coull said.

Dr. Josh Colby, an emergency room doctor at PECMH, spoke to the importance of having a CT scanner, a valuable piece of diagnostic medical equipment, where he shared three real-life cases (with personal details changed) of situations where outcomes didn’t turn out favourably because of a delay in a patient obtaining a CT scan.

“One of our most important and crucial tools that we have is the CT scan, and our nearest one is 35 kilometres away in Belleville,” Colby said.

He explained how it is a much more difficult decision to do a CT scan in Picton because in the emergency department a nurse is tied up for six hours because they have to accompany the patient to another hospital, as well as tying up an ambulance for six hours.

“Sometimes, we decide not to do a CT scan for a day or two, and unfortunately sometimes that’s not such a good thing.”

Seating was limited to 300 and for those ticket holders who paid $50 to get in the door, they got to enjoy bubbles, hors d’oeuvres in the form of gourmet appetizers (while enjoying a cash bar) while browsing (and hopefully buying) the wide selection of art pieces in both the silent auction and the live auction, as they mingled with art aficionados, art lovers or curious browsers in this significant hospital fundraiser of the year.

Foundation executive director Shannon Coull, far left, introduces a small contingent of PECMHF Auxiliary members.

And if a live auction and a silent auction of some 85 pieces of art wasn’t enough excitement for one evening, the Auxiliary announced a surprise one-time matching gift of up to $100,000 where outright gifts in the form of a donation or a commitment (where structured instalments were also available) would receive on-the-spot matching, one-for-one by the Auxiliary.

Riches stepped back in to facilitate a matching gift auction in what was a fairly rapid and fun session, where she began her ask at $50,000 and got one taker. She tried again at $45,000, then $25,000, moving down to $15,000 with no takers. There was a taker at $10,000, but no one was biting at $8,000, but there were many takers offering $5,000, $2,000 and $1,000, along with a few more at $500 and $100 where no sooner had it all started, the mission was complete, and the exciting one-for-one matching was over.

Final funds raised are yet to be announced.

Nancy Parks

“The new hospital design be the first, and only one of its kind in North America. It might be the first, but it won’t be the last as there is already interest in this hospital design from around the world,” said Nancy Parks, PECMHF chair said, who confirmed that shovels in the ground for construction for the new hospital build will happen this summer.

With support from our community, the foundation has raised $21 million from our $27 million goal.”

Coull called a few PECMH Auxiliary members to the stage, including president Susan Quaiff.

“This is a very, very small representation of the hundreds of volunteers that help to make your hospital experience, one that’s known for being pretty special, and I’ve been told many times that we live in a very unique community and one of the reasons for that is because our hospital is actually a pretty great place to visit, if you have to visit our hospital,” Coull said. “These are the people who greet you, these are the people who bring you a coffee, these are the people who hug your loved ones, these are the people that pop into my office almost every day to say hello.”

She also spoke to the Foundation’s board of directors and the incredible leadership overseeing the Foundation, saying, ”they set the course, I just drive the boat; I’ve got an incredible staff behind me who help do all of this. We are a small but very mighty team”.

“My goal at the beginning of this campaign when I became chair was to make sure that everyone who lives in this community would be able to walk up to the hospital doors and say I built my hospital. This is your opportunity to be able to say that by giving whatever you can,” added Parks.

Coull also spoke to the future of the hospital, and to hope.

“At the end of this campaign, not only will we have a brand new hospital, we are going to have a beacon of hope, hope for continued access to care close to home for generations to come,” she said. “You are all investing in a brighter, healthier future for everyone who lives in or visits our beloved Prince Edward County.”

She said in the next couple of months there is going to be a lot of activity happening behind the hospital.

“There is going to be construction vehicles and we are going to have a live webcam where you can watch the hospital being built in real time, so things are going to get really exciting; it`s been a long, long time in the making and it is happening.”

To learn more about the Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Foundation’s Back the Build campaign, or to donate, visit

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