Renovations at Headwaters hospital almost complete

June 18, 2020   ·   0 Comments

By Alyssa Parkhill

In October of last year, Shelburne residents Joan and Paul Waechter made a generous donation of $1 million in support of Headwaters Health Care Centre and Foundation.

That donation was used to help cover the costs to renovate the main entrance of the hospital, purchase some new pieces of equipment and upgrade important clinical software. 

Renovations to the “new and improved” main entrance lobby area, which will be called the Joan and Paul Waechter Welcome Centre, are slowly winding down, with only a few final touches left to do. 

“We are so thankful for the support from the community for this renovation, in particular Joan and Paul Waechter, who the space is now named after.,” said Headwaters President and CEO Kim Delahunt. “We also received a generous donation from the Headwaters Health Care Auxiliary to support the staircase renovation.”

The renovations to the front lobby will feature a new accessible entryway, a new information desk, expanded waiting areas, a therapeutic and fully accessible outdoor space, redesigned gift shop and café and a new, safer and more accommodating central staircase.

Construction hasn’t been impacted greatly by the COVID-19 crisis, Ms. Delahunt says, as a majority of the work was completed before the pandemic hit Ontario. 

With only minor work still needing to be done, contractors have been able to follow the physical distancing rules in place, while continuing their work. 

Renovations to the exterior of the main entrance of the hospital, which includes an expanded roof, a gentle and sloped curb for pickup and drop-offs, and a new patio that will include seating and greenery, will be completed later this month. 

It’s an exciting time for the local hospital. With renovations well underway, the facility has been bolstered by news that the provincial government will be providing a funding top-up to the tune of $3.7 million. Due to the pressures COVID-19 brought to small and medium sized hospitals, the Ontario government is investing money to ensure “long-standing pressures and gaps” are addressed at facilities all over the province. 

With that announcement only coming down last week, Ms. Delahunt says Headwaters staff have yet to fully determine where that money would be spent, although she indicated it would almost certainly go towards funding day-to-day costs at the hospital, rather than funding any upgrades or new equipment purchases. 

“This funding will help us manage our ongoing expenses to operate the hospital. It will be an increase we will see year over year from the province. It’s not one-time funding,” said Ms. Delahunt. “Of course, we continue to rely on the generosity of the community, through our Foundation, to support priority equipment purchases that are not supported by provincial funding.”

Headwaters has faced a long list of challenges due to COVID-19, and continues to manage staff, services, programs and patients. Early on in the pandemic, they opened up an emergency operations centre, where several staff members were deployed, while others left their roles at the hospitals to partner with local medical partners in the community, such as long-term care homes. 

“We had to quickly do a lot of planning and organization of people and other resources, such as personal protective equipment. There were also many provincial government directives that we needed to follow during this pandemic, including those from public health. So, we needed to be flexible to meet those requirements. This also included the request to assist with one of our long-term care partners in Shelburne,” said Ms. Delahunt.  

Additionally, in partnership with the Dufferin County Paramedic Service, Dufferin Area Family Health Team, Home and Community Care, St. John Ambulance, the Orangeville Police and Headwaters’ own staff members, the COVID-19 Assessment Centre was built to assess and test those with symptoms of COVID-19, which is now being run by the hospital. 

 “I can say without question that our team has done a stellar job at pulling together and managing in this crisis. It has taken a lot of additional effort and time. People have pulled long hours. I am proud to be part of the team here,” said Ms. Delahunt. “We need to remind ourselves that we have to be kind to one another and supportive, particularly during these times of crisis. We are supporting our staff with internal resources for help if they need it and there are many within the community that are available.” 

Staff at Headwaters continue their battle with COVID-19 by following advice and guidelines provided by the province. The main focus as of now is increasing their services, beginning with surgical. 

With Dufferin County entering Phase 2 of the reopening of the province, HHCC is gradually resuming operations that were halted on March 19. Back then, hospitals were instructed to stop all non-urgent medical procedures due to the impact of COVID-19. This caused a 90 percent drop in surgical procedures. 

“We will start with 50 percent capacity on re-opening on Monday (June 15), with a gradual ramp-up, as mandated, to 100 per cent capacity in a month, with daily and weekly re-evaluations of the impact, within our hospital, locally and regionally,” said Chief of Staff Dr. Peter Cino in a recent news release. 

In association with other hospitals within the region, and community partners such as Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health, Headwaters has developed a phased plan on how to resume scheduled surgical procedures and endoscopies, which was approved the province last week. 

“We know this pause in procedures has caused some anxiety for patients and families, but we are confident that we are now ready to begin a safe, slow and steady ramp up at our hospital,” said Ms. Delahunt. “The COVID-19 pandemic has also shown us what we can accomplish as community partners, when we work together with a common purpose. We have also been more innovative in our approach to providing care during the pandemic, using technology to ensure patients who urgently needed that connection could connect with their team or specialist”  

The hospital is working diligently to manage the cases that were backlogged and say it may take months before the hospital will be back on track. 

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