Runnymede Healthcare Centre's new digs

Neighbourhood's hospital finds a home at old Strathcona School site

After years of legal wrangling and orders to upgrade, the new Runnymede Healthcare Centre celebrated its grand opening in December.

Construction began for the new state-of-the-art facility, a four-storey structure on the premises of the old Strathcona Public School, in 2007 and was completed in the spring.

The need for a new hospital — which first opened in the school in 1945 — was evident, said hospital officials, as the physical structure of the old hospital limited the types of programs they could offer. Now, they say, there is a real potential for growth.

But the road to this facility has not been an easy one for Runnymede.

After six decades they have survived two legal directives to close down and one to transform.

The old building had a capacity of 95 beds and now with the new facility, that number has more than doubled to 200.

And with a new building comes new technology.

A $7 million IT system has been installed to support a four-year strategy system.

This enables the hospital to build a solid infrastructure and focus on major initiatives that could have never been done in the old building due to its aged technological system.

Some of the new programs offered by Runnymede include community programs and dental and chiropractic programs. Established services have also expanded at the facility, including: physiotherapy, occupational therapy, nursing, clinical nutrition, speech language pathology, activation therapy and social work.

One of the innovative initiatives in use is a GPS band worn by some of the patients who tend to wander off their floor or even off the premises. The GPS alerts staff immediately of such an incident.

None of this could have been possible without the many generous supporters of the hospital over the years and decades, say hospital officials.

This includes a $1 million donation from philanthropist Gordon Gooder and his wife Ruth. Both have strong ties to the hospital.

Himself a student at the former Strathcona Public School, Mr. Gooder’s father-in-law, the late Edward C. Roelofson was appointed chairman of the original board of directors when the hospital first opened in 1945.

Mr. Gooder’s sister-in-law Betty served as the first female chairperson of the board. For the Gooder family, Runnymede Healthcare Centre has played an important role in both their community and their lives, said Julie Hiroz, Runnymede’s communications manager in an email.

Now, the long-term goal of the hospital is clear: Leading the way in specialized complex continued care, and working cooperatively with other facilities around Toronto and Ontario to provide better results for patients and staff.

During the grand opening, Deb Matthews, minister of health and long-term care announced an additional $8-million in funding for another 57 new beds.

“As we prepared to open the additional beds announced by Minister Matthews, we’ve launched a recruitment drive as we believe at Runnymede that outstanding care starts with outstanding people, so we’re committed to investing in human resources as well as ongoing education and training,” Hiroz said.

Infrastructure Ontario worked with Runnymede Healthcare Centre to build the replacement hospital, which will remain publicly owned, publicly controlled and publicly accountable, according to a statement released by the Ontario government announcing the grand re-opening.

About this article:

By: Glenn Smith
Posted: Dec 23 2010 3:36 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto