The June 5 public meeting at the Riverdale Community Centre was well attended.

EVANSTON: Supporters of the Strait-Richmond Hospital made their pitch to the community.

During a meeting of the Strait-Richmond Healthcare Foundation on June 5 at the Riverdale Community Centre, the Shannon family confirmed their donation of $300,000 for the first phase of renovations.

Atlantic Corporation Ltd. president and the hospital’s first ever board member, Joseph P. Shannon, was inspired by the size of the crowd at the meeting, as well as the great work done by the foundation.

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Whereas the hospital once served the needs of a younger demographic 40 years ago, the 78-year-old Shannon said times have changed.

“Now that we’re 40 years older, our needs for different kinds of services are here,” he pointed out. “We need cardiologists, we got bowel problems, we got kidney problems, we got liver problems, circulation problems, all kinds of problems and we need different services from when we had young kids.”

Shannon said Strait area residents do not want to have to drive to New Glasgow, Sydney or Antigonish in the middle of winter.

“We want to set up a structure where the doctors will come to us,” Shannon said. “We should have a facility where the doctors are pleased to get up in the morning and drive to the Strait-Richmond Hospital where they know they will have a place to work with modern technology and equipment, and where they can do their job and do it properly and provide the service to their patients they want to provide and something you want from your medical system.”

The Port Hawkesbury businessman noted that the hospital has never been a burden to the taxpayers of Nova Scotia.

“That’s a lot of service that that hospital has brought to this community at very little cost to the community,” Shannon said.

“The money that was spent on the modernization that was done on the Strait-Richmond Hospital was done through the foundation board and the work that their volunteers do…”

Photos by Jake Boudrot
Atlantic Corporation Ltd. president Joseph P. Shannon (far left) was at the Riverdale Community Centre on June 5 to confirm his family’s $300,000 donation to the first phase of renovations to the Strait-Richmond Hospital.

Before Shannon took to the stage, Strait-Richmond Hospital facility manager Kathy Chisholm said that since being constructed in the early 1980s, the hospital has been well maintained but has “undergone minimal renovations.”

Chisholm said they have received approval in principle from the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) to proceed with ambulatory care renovations, the Shannon family donated $300,000 and the foundation has agreed to match that donation. She said the foundation is also in discussions with a private donor whose contribution is contingent on the health authority’s funding, which Chisholm is optimistic will arrive.

A formal agreement will then have to be signed by the foundation and NSHA before the final design phase, Chisholm noted.

Because the original cost estimate for renovations was $2.3 million, Chisholm said the project will be done in phases, over years, but first, the hospital needs commitments from the foundation and the community.

Chisholm explained renovations to the hospital’s 1,220 square foot ambulatory care facility will cost well over $330,000. She said the NSHA will develop a phasing plan as funding becomes available.

“We need to determine how far we can get with the money that we have today,” Chisholm told the meeting. “When do the final design, we will have a funding phase, so they will help us figure out how much money we are going to need to do what phase.”

The foundation will continue to fundraise until the completion of the project, and to do that, it is seeking community partners to assist with fundraising, Chisholm said, noting the foundation will also host public information sessions updating their fundraising efforts.

“I guess that’s what we’re doing here tonight,” Chisholm said.

Foundation treasurer Patricia Burns reported that the group is debt-free and ready to tackle fundraising for the renovations.

“We are well positioned for this next undertaking, with the help of the community, of course,” Burns said.

Burns said the foundation has two major campaigns, the “Gift Appeal” and the “Lights for Life.” Also parking revenue goes into the hospital and has helped establish an endowment fund, she said, noting that donations through funeral homes, private donations and contributions to the “Tree of Life” all go back to the facility.

At the conclusion of the meeting, foundation fundraising coordinator Aurine Richard added that brochures with pledge sheets for the “Gift Appeal” will soon be mailed out to Strait area residents.