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First step closer to approval for a new hospital in PEC

PECMH Foundation executive director Penny Rolinski welcomes MP Lou Rinaldi to make the announcement the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care has approved the Pre-Capital Submission for the Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Redevelopment Project.

The first major step to build a new hospital in Prince Edward County was celebrated Thursday morning.

About 100 community members, politicians and Quinte Health Care staff gathered at the arena in Picton to hear the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care has approved the pre-capital submission for the hospital redevelopment project.

Lou Rinaldi, MP Northumberland Quinte, made the announcement on behalf of Health Minister Dr. Eric Hoskins.

“We’re not there yet, but are surely progressing in the right direction,” he said. “The proposal for a new build is in the move-forward motion. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

The approval gives the project a ‘green light’ to move to Stage 1 of five – the proposal – which includes evaluating the current site, investigation of site options, a space plan and cost estimate. That is expected to take about six months.

“In 2014 local health partners re-launched efforts to rebuild a new hospital in Prince Edward County. We knew then, as we know today, that a project of this magnitude requires a long-term commitment, strong partnerships and an engaged community willing to go the distance – not to mention a lot of work each and every step of the way,” said Penny Rolinski, executive director of the PECMH Foundation.

MP Todd Smith thanked the community for continued support of the hospital noting it mirrors the rallying in 1908 when the Sir Thomas Picton Chapter, Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire made a motion “To contribute all entertainment money to establish a County hospital”. The sum of $10,429.93 was eventually raised and the original hospital opened on Hill Street in 1919. The current hospital was opened in 1959.

“Keep up the good work. The community is going to be needed just as it was back in 1908 when that first hospital was just an idea,” said Smith.

Quinte Health Care board of directors chairman Doug McGregor noted the new County hospital is QHC’s number one development priority and that the community must remain engaged, informed and inspired.

“This truly is a team sport when you’re engaging the ministry and likewise we’re very fortunate to have the support of the Prince Edward County Family Health Team, the Foundation and Auxiliary for the money and energy they have contributed. It is so vital to the day-to-day operation of this hospital as well as what we’re trying to achieve in building a new structure.”

Paul Huras, chief executive officer with the LHIN (Local Health Integration Network) confirmed the project is of high priority.

“You’re not at the point of putting a shovel in the ground. Capital takes time and there’s reasons for that, but without this step being approved, you wouldn’t be getting a shovel in the ground… The hospital will keep pushing. The Family Health Team will keep pushing and no one will push more than you as representatives of this community.”

Prince Edward County Mayor Robert Quaiff called the annoucement one of the highlights of his term.

“This announcement wasn’t supposed to be until further on down the road closer to July or August but with the advocacy work that we’ve done together it’s here today,” said Quaiff. “Our municipality has worked tirelessly with our partners, Quinte Health Care, the southeast LHIN, and the Prince Edward Family Health Team to advocate for the redevelopment… It is essential for us to maintain a strong voice with our upper levels of government to keep our health care facilities viable and our services accessible.”

He promised continued municipal support of the work in the community.

“We will be patient, but we will be persistant and I’m confident that in the not too distant future we will be celebrating the next milestone.”

Dr. Don Koval, who has worked in the County for the past 30 years, said Tuesday’s announcement was the first great optimism he has felt for quite a few years, but noted “the hard work is just beginning as we move forward in this complicated and time-consuming process of building a modern, up-to-date, new hospital to serve our community for the next 50 years.”

“The practise of medicine as well as the nature of the hospital has changed dramatically over those 30 years,” he said, noting how today, many surgeries are done on an out-patient basis and how the many advances to procedures now allow people to leave the hospital sooner.

“We no longer admit people to hospital simply for investigations, which we used to do. You almost never see anybody arrive at the emergency department anymore with a suitcase in hand.”

With advances and technoligy, the kind of hospital needed today has also changed, he said.

“We no longer need a massive structure with a lot of beds… Everything happens more quickly and timely. We no longer hold x-rays up in the window, or have to wait for results by mail.

“We need a more modern, well-designed hospital with better ventilation, more room in the private rooms, their own bathrooms, better resistance to infectious diseases. We hope that this “campus facility” integrates with the Family Health Team, allowing a seamless transition of outpatient to inpatient and back to outpatient care and the home.”

The Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Foundation has also been on the scene for more than 30 years.

“The foundation has taken the lead in bringing the community together to support the ongoing funding needs of our very much loved hospital,” said Monica Alyea, chairman of the foundation. “We have been, and will continue to be, a strong voice advocating for the exceptional health care for the citizens and visitors of Prince Edward County.

She also referred to the people who worked to build the County’s first two hospitals.

“Now it’s our turn to look to the future of health care in Prince Edward County and provide what we need… to build and maintain our rural hospital as a state-of-the-art facility with skilled healthcare providers.”

The community’s share to be raised is expected to be $14-$18 million of the project, expected to cost out in the range of $70 million.

While the foundation is the fundraising arm of the hospital, the auxiliary’s team of 200 volunteers is known as its service arm. It has already raised more than one million dollars for the hospital over its 82 year history and is working toward its commitment to raise $1 million for the new hospital.

“I know how much this community cares, about not the building, but the care that the Family Health Team and the front line people actually give the community,” said Peggy Payne, past president of the auxiliary. “We’ve already saved about $300,000 toward our $1 million commitment for this new hospital and we will be standing on street corners, and using the Festival of Trees, the coffee shop and the thrift shop to make sure that we put forward our contribution to this new health care facility and look forward to the hopefully next seven years until the shovels go into the ground.”

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