Photo via Town of Gananoque.

University Hospitals Kingston Foundation has made a request to Gananoque council for funding.

In a delegation during Tuesday’s council meeting, Abigail McIlquham, Associate Director, Healthcare Advancement and CEO Tom Zsolnay, asked the Town of Gananoque to make a funding pledge of $75,000 in each year for five years (2024-2028) for a total commitment of $375,000.

“This amount is based on the 15,000 revisits made from residents from Gananoque last year,” said McIlquham.

The availability of highly-skilled specialist care at Kingston Health Science Centre, the duo touted to council, enables the residents of Gananoque to receive critical care for cancer, trauma, heart attack, stroke, pediatrics, neonatal intensive care and other serious health issues close to home, rather than having to travel to Toronto or Ottawa for this high level of service.

“Your support of Kingston Health Science Centre will impact the quality of life for your residents, (especially) those who require specialized and urgent care,” said McIlquham.

This ask for funding will be further discussed during December’s budget deliberations.

Dating back to 2003, the Town of Gananoque has donated $333,000 to Kingston Health Sciences Centre and Providence Care, supporting projects such as the Cancer Centre expansion, the Intensive Care Unit expansion and urgent capital upgrades.

McIlquham and Zsolnay said there has been a 30 per cent increase since 2019 for the number of Gananoque residents making visits to KHSC for cancer treatment.

Ontario, particularly the southeastern region, has an aging population, it was noted during the delegation, with rising chronic disease rates and projected local population growth that will put increasing pressure on its already strained health-care capacity. At the same time, facilities at KHSC are some of the oldest in the country, health-care technologies and capabilities are evolving dramatically, and the hospital is feeling the effects of a Canada-wide health human resources shortage. To better care for patients, now and into the future, ongoing action is required to update and expand physical facilities at KHSC, upgrade technologies, and attract the best and brightest health-care professionals to the area.

The Kingston General Hospital (KGH) site has been identified as a priority for significant facility upgrades and as a result of detailed planning studies and infrastructure investigations. It has been determined that a master facility plan update is required before proceeding with a major redevelopment project. The KHSC will be re-engaging stakeholders to develop a short-term and long-term vision for KHSC facilities. The short-term vision will involve identifying projects that support immediate capacity pressures in the two hospital sites while the long-term planning is reworked.

The most urgent needs within KHSC’s hospitals sites today, McIlquham said, are the capital upgrades that will allow specialists to continue to innovate and provide world class care to residents of southeastern Ontario. These upgrades are the highest priority for the next five years and help is needed from neighbouring municipalities to make them a reality. The capital upgrades include operating room equipment, the addition of a PET scanner to Diagnostic Imaging Services, a new MRI at the Breast Imaging Kingston Centre, and a Translational Genomics Facility within the Clinical Laboratories that will improve early cancer diagnoses and more precise treatments.

High-level estimates for these capital upgrades indicate an investment of $400 million over the next 10 years, for which there is no provincial funding, council heard.

The cost must be shared by the hospital’s operational budget and the generosity of the community that is served by the hospital. The two said it will require an unprecedented philanthropic undertaking to make up the difference between the cost of these capital upgrades for quality care and regular hospital revenue sources.

So, to meet this challenge, the UHKF is asking community partners throughout southeastern Ontario to raise their sights and make generous investments essential to the exceptional health-care provided by KHSC.

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