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Community raises $20.7M for County’s new hospital; will now fundraise for equipment

New donors to the Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Foundation, Rick and Debbie Dainard, were at the fundraising celebration to present, with their children Tanya and Michael, the family’s $1.25 million gift to Back the Build. They are flanked by Nancy Parks, Back the Build campaign co-chairperson, Jim Dunlop, Shannon Coull, executive director and Dennis Darby,  campaign co-chairperson and director on the PECMHF board.

By Sue Capon
As is the County way, the community contributed more than expected to build its new hospital – surpassing the original fundraising goal. Now, the challenge is to equip it with state-of-the art equipment.

At a celebratory event Thursday at the Crystal Palace in Picton, the Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Foundation (PECMHF) announced $20.7 million had been raised, surpassing the original $16.5 million goal set in 2018 when the Back the Build campaign began.

The funds cover the local share of the new hospital build, set out by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC). This funding requirement includes 10 per cent of the hard construction costs and as such, the funds raised over goal will be used toward covering the rise in building costs, inflation, increased infection control measures, environmental sustainability enhancements and an increase in services – including a new CT scan machine, and 20 inpatient beds, instead of the proposed 18.

“More than 2,400 corporate and individual donors invested in Back the Build’s promise to build a new hospital in the County. These donors contributed over 5,030 gifts. The total of their generosity is a reflection of the quality of this community of supporters,” said Dennis Darby, Back the Build campaign co-chairperson and director on the PECMHF board. “We’re grateful to the entire community for coming together; volunteers, donors, businesses big and small, service clubs. Donors should never underestimate the impact they have. Every gift, no matter the size, has brought us to where we are today and every donor brings our community closer together.”

Debbie and Rick Dainard

New donors to PECMHF, Rick and Debbie Dainard, were present with their children Tanya and Michael to announce the family’s $1.25 million gift to Back the Build.

Rick told the guests gathered he was supposed to be born in the ‘new’ (current) hospital.

“I arrived a bit earlier than the new hospital, so I was born in the old hospital (on Hill Street). At first I was a little concerned that me and the hospital are the same age and we need to get a new one,” he joked.

With generations rooted in the County, he noted that as families grow, people realize health care is often taken for granted until they need it.

For himself, he said it was mainly for stitches incurred as a result of lacerations from hockey sticks and pucks during the 70s. For other family members, needs were more serious and “every time we were there, we were treated with the utmost care.”

And it’s his coach, Jim Dunlop, of Wellington, that he thanked specifically.

“When we played, Jim taught us how to win and we won three provincial championships over a period of four or five years. During that time, Jim was teaching us dedication, discipline, structure and focus to stay goal-oriented,” Rick recalled. “I thought it was all about hockey and years after that, I realized he was really teaching us life lessons.”

The family decided it could help the hospital reach its goal and pledged $1.25 million, handing over the first $250,000 installment.

It was gifts both large and small that helped PECMHF reach the $20.7 million in donations and pledges.

And with the fulfillment of the local share requirement for the hospital build, the hospital foundation will now focus its efforts on the major equipment needed. The team announced it will raise $6M over the next five years.

“Those who have donated to help Back the Build are touching everyone in this community – from children to the elderly,” said Nancy Parks, Back the Build campaign co-chairperson. “Now, with our new goal identified, we are hoping those who have not had an opportunity to contribute to the campaign, will step forward and become part of this incredible dream.”

Joking that following the Dainard’s donation was tough work, County residents Gail and Larry Richardson told the audience their family has also benefited from the services of the County’s hospital over the 54 years they’ve lived here.

Their recommended show of support is to sign up for monthly donations “whether it’s $10 a month, $20, or whatever you can afford. It is so easy,” said Larry. “It just comes out of your bank account and you don’t even feel it gone but it is helping. It does so much good.”

Though the retired teachers have become an RV family, they were grounded throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and Gail decided Larry needed something to do.

He started painting small barn quilt boards and has been selling them with proceeds raised being donated to the hospital, and sometimes the new Picton library build, or the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory.

“It’s not a lot of money but every little bit helps, so I encourage people to have new and creative ideas, or do the monthly payment plan. It’s easy.”

The new QHC PECMH is on track to open in 2027 with shovels projected to go into the ground in 2024.

“Building a new hospital is extremely involved and dynamic. There are so many moving parts that are all necessary so the project continues to move forward. The community’s confidence and continued support in this project has been critical,” said Shannon Coull, executive director of the PECMH Foundation. “It was clear from the start that this community is incredibly supportive of their hospital. Every single contribution is important. Whether it’s 10 dollars or one million, we appreciate the community support toward this next phase of our campaign. It’s our hospital. It’s our legacy.”

Those interested in making a donation can do so by visiting PECMHF’s newly redeveloped website at Cheques can also be mailed to PECMH Foundation, 403 Main Street, Picton, ON K0K 2T0, and those with further inquires may direct them to 613-476-1008 ext. 4502.


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