ANNIE SILVESTER/Bullet News
Excitement, tears and laughter all came together at the new St. Catharines hospital facility as the official ribbon cutting ceremony got underway Thursday morning.Local dignitaries, staff and community members comprised a crowd of hundreds at the momentous occasion that officially acknowledged the “one million square feet of care” becoming a reality.
Each speaker to the podium also brought with them a memento that would be added to a time capsule as part of the celebration that ranged from Regional Chairman Gary Burroughs’ wooden apple “the universal symbol for preventative medicine” to Lucille Vogel’s inspirational CDs that she listened to as an oncology patient at the old General.
A common theme was apparent however. Although the new facility was grand it was the people and the “art of care” that would truly make the health experience exceptional for patients that would enter through the doors in the future.
Sue Matthews, interim CEO and president of the Niagara Health System talked to Bullet News about its importance after the ceremony.
“Everybody understands the science of health care, they understand medicine although they may not know it themselves but they know there is a science behind everything that we do. But, what often gets missed is the art. So putting a hand on someone’s arm when they’re just not feeling right is an art. It’s an art to know when to do that and when not to do that. It’s an art when to know what to say to a person at the time that they are grieving. They’re not easy things to do.”
But Matthews acknowledged the art of care could only be enhanced further with the new building.
“The whole concept is marrying the art and the science of health care.”
NHS provincial supervisor Kevin Smith told Bullet News that the day was overwhelming and a culmination of eight years of remarkable hard work.
“This building will really give us all the tools we need to provide state of the art care and our task now is to provide state of the art caring.”
Another important aspect Smith noted however is that the new facility will become a teaching hospital and a centre for education and research.
“In addition to providing outstanding, exemplary care, we’ll be training the health care professionals of tomorrow and that allows us to think about retention and recruitment and how we make sure we always have the doctors and nurses and others that we need to meet the needs of patients in Niagara.”
The new St. Catharines Site is a replacement community hospital for the St. Catharines General and Ontario Street sites. It will also offer new regional services in cancer care, cardiac care and
mental-health care not currently available in Niagara and is set to officially open March 24.