Sudbury's hospital receives record donation

In a “historic announcement” on Monday, Health Sciences North announced that it has received a record-setting donation as part of its efforts to expand and redevelop its overburdened facility.

The Fielding and Perdue family is donating $10 million to the Northern Cancer Foundation, to go towards HSN’s proposed capital redevelopment.

As a result of the donation, the hospital’s cancer centre will be renamed as the Shirley and Jim Fielding Northeast Cancer Centre.

“My parents, Jim and Shirley Fielding, were a big inspiration for me,” said Craig Fielding. “Unfortunately, they’re not with us today to share this moment, but really they provided all the things that I’m thankful for in life. We built on that, and this is a great way to say thanks to them.”

Shirley, Craig’s mother, was known for her giving nature and strong will, until her passing in 2016 at the age of 77. Craig’s father, Jim, was the son of Lily and Cliff Fielding. He served as chairman of the Alexander Centre Industries Ltd., and was elected as director of Canadian Pacific in 1986. In 2000, he died of prostate cancer at the age of 62.

“From his window (at the hospital), he could see the beginning of the construction for what was supposed to be a one-site hospital,” said Craig. “Northerners know that HSN was built too small and that’s a big problem. When we heard about HSN’s plan to increase the number of beds and expand services for kids and mental health and addiction patients, we knew we had to help.”

HSN was originally approved as a one-site, 600-bed hospital in 1996. But in 2004, the Ministry of Health scaled back the plan, reducing capacity by 31 per cent. Since then, demand for health care services has overwhelmed the system, leading to excessive wait times, beds in hallways, and too few healthcare staff for the number of patients.

Instead of the one site originally envisioned, HSN has 14 sites across Greater Sudbury, and staff in 17 other locations across northeastern Ontario.

President and CEO Dominic Giroux has long complained of this issue.

“You’ve probably heard me say a few times over the years that HSN was built too small,” he said. “This is why the very first outcome in our 2019-2024 strategic plan at HSN is to begin implementing a capital plan to address our space needs, so that we can provide the care that northerners deserve.”

The donation is the largest ever received by a northern Ontario hospital. The previous largest donation was made to HSN in 2019 by Marcel and Frances Labelle, who donated $5 million dollars to establish the Labelle Innovation and Learning Centre last March.

The $10 million will go towards Phase 1 of the capital redevelopment. HSN is currently in the process of seeking a $5 million Stage 2 planning grant for Phase 1, which includes an increase in inpatient beds for cancer patients and the expansion of NEO Kids to provide a friendly environment for chemotherapy treatment for children.

With the additional $10 million, NEO Kids and the Northern Cancer Foundation have now secured $19 million for the capital redevelopment. The hospital said this is crucial, because the Ministry of Health requires 25 per cent of redevelopment costs to be raised locally through fundraising.

Giroux said that at this point, it’s hard to predict the timing of the redevelopment process, though they hope to begin implementing the 20-year Capital Master Plan by 2024.

“It’s a very moving day for everyone at Health Sciences North, and for all hospital across the Northeast,” said Giroux. “We’re confident this will help build moment in terms of future fundraising, but also in terms of Ministry of Health improvements.”

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mjensen@postmedia.com

Twitter: @mia_rjensen

Mia Jensen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Sudbury Star