With a long tradition, dating back to 1994, of supporting the local regional healthcare system, the County of Simcoe took another big step in ensuring that important relationship continues. The county announced March 27 they would be investing $45 million in area hospitals to support capital and redevelopment projects taking place between 2017 and 2031.

The renewed pledge brings the county’s commitment to $107 million over a 37-year period.

“The relationship with the hospitals at County of Simcoe has been a strong one beyond the financial commitment we made here today,” said Gerry Marshall, Simcoe County warden, who made the 15-year pledge official in front of representatives from the Simcoe County Hospital Alliance (SCHA) at the County of Simcoe Administration Centre atrium. From that special relationship has come working groups and together they have studied ALight (age-related macular degeneration), looked at the aging population, homelessness issues and emergency room activities.

“Beyond the dollar and cents of the conversation, we actually meet staff to staff and it’s the board chair and politicians talking about healthcare in general for the county,” Marshall said. “We’ve got a solid partnership with our hospitals and we’re certainly fortunate to have seven hospitals of the calibre we have in the county.”

The SCHA encompasses Royal Victoria Regional Health Care Centre (RVH), Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital, Collingwood General and Marine Hospital, Georgian Bay General Hospital, Stevenson Memorial Hospital, Southlake Regional Health Centre and Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care.

Having already provided $62M in capital funding, the renewed pledge will be spread out with $20 million, going toward supporting the redevelopment of Collingwood General and Marine Hospital. Stevenson Memorial Hospital in Alliston will receive $10 million in funding, with $5.5 million going to RVH in Barrie, $3.1 million to Georgian Bay General Hospital in Midland and $2.2 million to Orillia Soldier’s Memorial Hospital.

“The money is well spread out and well thought of,” Marshall said. “In terms of the $45 million itself, there’s no political interference in how that money gets spent. We provide the (money) and the hospital CEOs get together and they decide, as a group, which hospital gets the portion of the money.”

The county’s commitment will go a long way in helping the local area healthcare facilities improve access to critical services and transform the quality care for residents.

“On behalf of the Hospital Alliance, I want to thank the county for their visionary leadership,” said Pat Campbell, SCHA chair and president and CEO of Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital. “We greatly appreciate the generous support you provide and your commitment to supporting access and excellence in healthcare services for the residents of Simcoe County.”

Making a real impact in the respective communities, Marshall believes it’s one of the county’s most well done and well thought of programs.

“I give kudos to whoever came up with the plan in 1994,” he said.

A total of $3 million will be handed out annually. The financial commitment will also help to meet the needs of a growing and aging community.

“Very much so,” Marshall said. “If you look at the County of Simcoe, 55 per cent of our population are seniors and our population just doubled. We’re at a 465,000 population today and by 2041 we’ll be at 800,000, so that’s a growing population that our hospitals need to be able to support and care for. (This) commitment really does help set the stage for future growth of the County of Simcoe.”

A percentage of the $45M investment will be distributed annually with considerations given to County of Simcoe Paramedic Services offload times at each hospital.

Photo: County of Simcoe councillors welcomed representatives from the Simcoe County Hospital Alliance on March 27 to announce the county’s new 15-year, $45 million funding investment in area hospitals.

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