ribbon cutting

The many veins of support represented at the official opening of the new Laboratory and Emergency Room Department took part in the ribbon cutting at the Saugeen Memorial Hospital June 20.

Hub Staff

A long awaited grand opening of the Saugeen Memorial Hospital took place on-site Thursday, June 20 following the completion of the final phase of their expansion project.

A vast array of attendees shared the pride in this tremendous community achievement. Interim President and CEO of the Grey Bruce Health Services (GBHS) Maureen Solecki welcomed visitors and acknowledged the vibrant growth in the community.

The new Emergency Department, which has been open for operation since January of 2018, is two and a half times larger than the original and houses nine treatment rooms and a dedicated decontamination room for critical situations. The new layout provides much needed privacy for patients and families visiting the hospital.

Solecki described the old ER as an “open-concept living room, dining room and kitchen” where you could see and hear everything.

“But it’s not just space, for our staff and physicians, it’s having the equipment they need to serve you better," she continued. “We need that equipment and space to respond to over 17,000 patients seeking care in our emergency department every year. Southampton is the busiest of our five rural hospitals,” said Solecki.

The second addition to this expansion is a 6,000 square foot renovation to the hospital’s laboratory, three times larger than the former facility. Solecki likened the navigation of staff between equipment to ballet dancers and joked that they lost some of their technicians to the National Ballet.

“Now the staff operate out of a bright, spacious department, built to meet strict new standards for environmental safety and infection control with modern temperature and humidity controls to protect lab specimens," she said.

Solecki recalled that the initial capital request for the ER and Laboratory renovations had been submitted 13 years ago. Their long road was paved by the extreme generosity and dedication of many supporters, in particular the Saugeen Memorial Hospital Foundation (SMHF) and the Saugeen Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, who together helped to raise $1.8 million towards the project. Solecki recognized Bruce Power, the Town of Saugeen Shores, local businesses, individual community members, service clubs and community groups.

“This new ER and Lab is the result of people coming together to build a healthy future for Saugeen Shores area," she said.

Members of the GBHS Board were present to celebrate the success of the hospital. GBHS Board Chair Brenda Kearney acknowledged the dedication of the hospital staff during the drawn out journey to project completion.

Brenda Kearney

Brenda Kearney, Board Chair to the Grey Bruce Health Services, gave thanks at the June 20 ER and Lab grand opening and ribbon cutting in Southampton.

“The staff has held steadfast and constantly focused on providing the very best healthcare they could under the circumstances,” said Kearney.

Saugeen Shores Mayor Luke Charbonneau, along with Vice Deputy Mayor Mike Myatt and Councillor Dave Myette, were all happy to partake in the celebrations. Mayor Charbonneau declared the importance of providing high-quality emergency healthcare to sustain the growth and quality of life in Saugeen Shores.

Luke Charbonneau

Saugeen Shores Mayor Luke Charbonneau congratulated all involved with the triumphant success of the Southampton Hospital expansion project.

“Without the work of the people in this room, without the dedication of people across this community, this hospital might not be here today,” said Charbonneau. “It certainly wouldn’t be here in the condition and performing the procedures and doing the work that it’s doing today,” he said.

Chris Mercanti, Manager of Community and Indigenous Relations, Bruce Power, was there on behalf of the company to relay their delight in seeing the completion of this project. Bruce Power has donated just over $560,000 to hospital.

Chris Mercanti

Bruce Power Manager of Community and Indigenous Relations, Chris Mercanti, was thrilled to be a part of the new Saugeen Memorial Hospital ER and Laboratory opening in Southampton.

“Bruce Power is on board and wants to be a part of the success of this institution and of the community," said Mercanti.

Tony Sheard, Chair of the Hospital Expansion Campaign, reminded guests in attendance of the hesitation initially felt by the community. Once the shovel hit the ground, doubt transformed to highly motivated support that continued unwaveringly until the end. Sheard thanked donors and fundraisers big and small who constructed this vision.

Tony Sheard

Tony Sheard, Chair of the Hospital Expansion Campaign.

“The many numerous businesses, service clubs and all the individuals who have given so generously,” said Sheard. “Whether you sold some stock, cut us a cheque, flipped a burger, dressed in pink, sold lemonade on the street corner, bought a raffle ticket, participated in the Rotary Huron Shore Run or took part in many other fun activities, your support is truly appreciated," he said.

Southampton Hospital Manager, Donna Chappelle, revisited the limited space they had to work with when she was a nurse at the hospital. Now she beamed over the nine beds and two flex-beds available in their ER Department. She also spoke fondly of the upgraded security available for staff and patients.

Donna Chappelle

Donna Chappelle, Southampton Hospital Manager, talked of the many upgrades made to the hospital at the official opening of the new ER and Lab on June 20.

“You only have to spend a night as a nurse in the Emerg department to understand the importance of security. The new ER is a locked department with updated staff alerted cameras to ensure that we are all safe,” said Chappelle.

Dr David Billings, Chief of ER in Southampton, concluded the speeches with his own gratitude and perspective on the project. As a new recruit in 2002, Billings was immediately impressed with the dedication the Saugeen Shores community had to their healthcare.

Having worked in approximately 20 hospitals throughout his career, Billings admitted that, "Nothing comes close to what we’ve been able to build and provide here."

David Billings

Dr David Billings, Chief of ER, Saugeen Memorial Hospital.

"I think it will serve this community, not for the needs that we have now, but for what we’re going to need 10, 15, 20 years from now," he said.

Jim Barbour

Outgoing Chair Member of the SMHF, Jim Barbour spoke of the success of the Southampton Hospital expansion project and conveyed his gratitude to all involved.

hospital auxiliary

Members of the Saugeen Memorial Hospital Auxiliary were praised by several speakers at the June 20 celebration to commemorate the completion of the Southampton Hospital expansion.