North York Mirror
Dedicated to serving a growing, aging and increasingly diverse community, North York General Hospital has launched a fundraising campaign, the likes of which has never been attempted in Canada.
The hospital is raising $150 million, the most ambitious campaign not supporting a redevelopment construction project ever undertaken by a Canadian community hospital.
That means residents shouldn't expect to see construction cranes adding lots of bricks and mortar to the hospital at the southeast corner of Sheppard Avenue and Leslie Street, hospital foundation president Terry Pursell said.
Instead, the funds will be used primarily to upgrade facilities, technology, equipment and research, she said.
"It (the hospital) is not going to change that much on the outside but will change on the inside," she said.
"We (now) provide very, very good solid patient care in facilities that need to be updated. What you need to do is provide excellent patient care in facilities that...meet the needs of our growing community."
Calling the campaign a pivotal point in North York General's history, Pursell tripled the original fundraising target to $150 million, up from $50 million.
"This is a special hospital. We need to empower the hospital to think in a bigger and bolder way," she said.
"We are a community hospital located in the heart of this community, supported by philanthropists from this community. We serve the most diverse community in Canada. It is this community's hospital."
It appears Pursell's ambitious gamble is paying off.
Already, the campaign has raised $72 million, including major donations from two of the hospital's most significant donor families.
Charlotte and Lewis Steinberg are contributing $12 million, which North York General believes is the largest gift by individual donors to a community hospital in Canadian history.
Their donation will support the redevelopment of the Charlotte and Lewis Steinberg emergency department, the establishment of the Steinberg Family Acute Care Unit and the purchase of a new CT scanner.
In recognition, the hospital is naming the prominent south tower facing Hwy. 401 as the Steinberg Family Tower.
Meanwhile, Gulshan and Pyarali Nanji are donating an undisclosed figure towards the purchase of a new CT scanner. In recognition, the hospital has announced the naming of the Gulshan and Pyarali G. Nanji Ambulatory Care Centre.
Money raised from the fundraising campaign will be divvied up into four "buckets," Pursell said.
The first bucket will contain $27 million to improve facilities at the hospital, perhaps most notably the emergency department.
For almost 90,000 patients a year, their introduction to the hospital is through the emergency room, said department manager Andrea Ennis.
"There is quite a bit of congestion that our patients are facing now," she said, adding the emergency room treated 88,000 patients last year in a department designed to handle 70,000 to 75,000 annually.
"It (the renovations) will help us deal with increasing our patient volumes to provide patient- and family-centred care. When patients have their families with them, the healing process is sped up. It (the Steinbergs' donation) is a pretty amazing gift we've been given and we have a lot of opportunity to work with the community to see what they are looking for from the emergency department."
Dr. Kuldeep Sidhu, chief of emergency medicine, said one look at the condo towers being built near the hospital proves the need for renovations that will provide better efficiency and improved technology in the emergency department and throughout North York General.
"We're not only being a little reactive but we're being a little proactive. Because as the community grows and ages, it is good to be ahead of the curve," he said.
In addition to simply handling more patients, the renovations will create a better experience for patients in the emergency room, Sidhu said.
For example, new areas will be created to handle pediatric, geriatric and mental health patients. There will be better technology in the department's "yellow zone" for diagnostic testing.
And former storage space on the seventh and eighth floors is being turned into about 40 new patient rooms, complete with negative-pressure isolation capacity to handle patients with infectious diseases, which will help unclog the backlog in the emergency room for patients that need to be admitted, Sidhu said.
Meanwhile, the second bucket of campaign funding will see $40 million devoted to technology and equipment, including CT scanners, operating rooms of the future, digital mammography, an echocardiography machine and laparoscopic equipment.
The third bucket contains $22 million for research and education, and the fourth bucket sets aside $61 million for the hospital's emerging priorities.