Groves surpasses $20-million fundraising goal for new hospital

Street: 'I don’t think there’s a single individual who hasn’t participated in some way in fundraising for this new hospital'

FERGUS – The New Groves Hospital campaign has officially surpassed its $20-million fundraising goal – a feat over five years in the making.

“It’s really overwhelming and I can’t say enough about the generosity of our community and our municipalities and our volunteers,” said Stephen Street, president and CEO of Groves Memorial Community Hospital.

He added, “It is really exciting to also be able to hit this milestone two months before we’re supposed to move into our facility.

“Many communities struggle for years after they move in to continue to raise for the building projects because it’s such a massive undertaking. So for us to be able to achieve that before we move is a real milestone and we should be proud of that as a community.”

The campaign raised funds to cover the local 10 per cent share of the build and almost all of the equipment and technology for the new Groves hospital in Aboyne.

Years of community fundraising and donations culminated with a $500,000 corporate donation from the Sorbara Group of Companies and Tribute Communities, pushing the foundation over the $20-million mark less than two months before the new Groves is scheduled to open on Aug. 9.

“You can actually see the hospital from our sales office; it’s quite amazing how close we really are to it,” said Moira Morris, Sorbara vice president of strategy, marketing and sales.

“Between ourselves and Tribute we’ll ultimately have about 1,500 homes in Storybrook.

“So this is a hospital that our homeowners will be using. I mean they’ll be going there to have their babies and going there for their surgeries so it’s great to be able to do something so relevant and really give back to the overall Fergus community, but in particular the future residents of Storybrook.”

Groves Hospital Foundation executive director Lori Arsenault explained all donations go into a pool of money to pay for new hospital needs.

However, large donors will sometimes have part of the hospital named after them. In the case of Sorbara and Tribute Communities, they’re naming the labour and delivery area of the new hospital.

The foundation is responsible for raising money for every piece of equipment in the hospital.

“The Ministry of Health does not give money for equipment,” Arsenault explained.

“So everything from a bed to IV poles to the chair you’re sitting on is funded through donations from the community.

“So obviously there will be a continued need to replace equipment, new equipment as we move forward but we do have the funds that we need to open the hospital.”

Some of the big-ticket items the campaign has purchased include:

– seven defibrillators at a cost of $25,000 each – one for every department at Groves;

– three digital x-ray machines at a cost of $355,000 each;

– echocardiogram at $181,000; and

– stress test treadmill system for cardio/respiratory services at $50,000 – this is a brand new item that has never been available at the hospital.

The hospital is also planning to move the CT scanner and digital mammography machine that were purchased through the generosity of the community.

“Thank you for everyone, whether it be a child who worked at a raffle at a public school to our largest donors in the residential development area to all of our corporate and service clubs,” Street said.

“Everyone has a role and I don’t think there’s a single individual who hasn’t participated in some way in fundraising for this new hospital and we look forward to sharing this new facility with them to serve them and their families for years to come.”

One of those longtime donors is Don Vallery of Belwood. He’s been involved with fundraising for the hospital since the Groves Hospital Foundation began.

“I’m a reasonably successful business person in the community and I think we owe it to our community to help support this kind of stuff,” said Vallery, who owns Highland Pines Campground and Pine Meadows.

“We all need the hospital, every one of us, and if I can afford to help make it happen and outfit the place through the foundation that’s great.

“I love to be part of it.”

Vallery also encouraged homeowners at Pine Meadows to raise money for the hospital and show their support.

“Everybody should help out when they can and I’m sure most people that have donated will probably do so again if called on,” he said.

The hospital began fundraising years ago to renovate the old hospital on Union Street in Fergus.

“Through discussions with the ministry that was abandoned and they suggested instead that we need a brand new facility,” Street explained.

During the transition period, rules changed and the hospital had to once again resubmit a business case for a new hospital.

However, the $7 million raised was put in a trust and pushed the current fundraising efforts past the original goal to $27 million.

“You can’t thank our residents enough because if it was not for the early campaigns we would not have received the original approval even though it was long ago, but it was the fact that the ministry had confidence that we would be able to, as a community, support the local share,” Street said.

“Many hospitals are not given approval because the ministry doesn’t have the confidence that the community has the capacity to manage the investment required for such a vital piece of infrastructure and they did in our case.”

Arsenault said she was thankful and very excited the hospital has now reached its fundraising goal.

“We’ve had support from all areas of the community,” she said. “Both corporate, individuals, the service clubs have been amazing.

“It’s been so fun to work with the groups that have done events and raised money for the hospital.”

Because the hospital has fulfilled its contribution requirement prior to the new building opening,  Street said the foundation is now in a good position for anything else that comes up that may need funding.

“So moving forward, if there’s ever some future need, not that we’re anticipating anything today, but it allows us to focus additional investments on any future expansion,” he said.

Normally, the hospital would hold an open house before patients were admitted to give the community an opportunity to see their investment.

“We’re struggling in COVID times,” Street said. “We are contemplating ways to do that with our restrictions even though they are being lifted a little bit.

“So I would say look forward to it in the coming weeks.”

Arsenault said the foundation was also planning to hold a celebration to thank donors.

“At this time we won’t be able to do it how we intended, but we hope that in time and when restrictions are lifted we will be able to have a community celebration to celebrate this amazing achievement,” she said.

The hospital is set to open on Aug. 9.