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'It brings hope:' Southlake receiving $5M to plan for new hospital

The expansion includes 100 more in-patient beds in a new state-of-the-art medical facility, bringing the total to 600

Southlake Regional Health Centre is receiving $5 million to begin planning for a new hospital, Minister of Health Christine Elliott announced at the Newmarket hospital this afternoon.

This marks the first significant expansion for the hospital since 2003, the Newmarket-Aurora MPP said at the April 8 announcement.

"Southlake has always prided itself on being by your side; today's announcement shows our government is on your side too," she told a small crowd of hospital employees, physicians and board members, as well as local dignitaries and media.

The expansion will include the addition of more than 100 new in-patient beds, bringing the total to more than 600. Acute and post acute care services will be expanded along with emergency, mental health and Indigenous care.

With the investment, the Newmarket hospital is on its way to becoming a two-site hospital — a new state-of-the-art hospital and redevelopment of the current one on Davis Drive to a modern ambulatory care centre — to accommodate the fastest growing community in the province, she said.  

“On behalf of the nearly 6,000 staff, physicians, volunteers and learners at Southlake, I would like to thank the provincial government for supporting our vision of a state-of-the-art two-site hospital system,” Arden Krystal, Southlake’s president and CEO, said.

“Today’s historic announcement represents a major milestone in our organization’s 100-year history and will ensure that Southlake has the necessary infrastructure to continue to care for our rapidly growing communities for decades to come."

The announcement brings more than a promise of a new modern hospital, said Krystal. "It brings hope" for the staff, physicians and volunteers at Southlake, as well as caregivers, patients and families.   

"They have experienced hallway health care for too long and today's announcement gives them assurance that a new Southlake is on the horizon," she said.

Newmarket Mayor John Taylor called Southlake the community's greatest asset and said the only way to describe its impact is to say he was born at the hospital, his children were born there and family members in crisis have been supported there.

"I am an example of thousands and thousands and thousands of families who have relied on this hospital and the first-class service provided by its staff and the team," he said.

As a hospital with one of the busiest emergency rooms in Ontario, they've had to become experts in hallway health care —- something no hospital should have expertise in, he said.

Taylor called the announcement "incredibly exciting" and said both the hospital team and minister are ensuring that future generations of children will be cared for in the same way that we were cared for.

York-Simcoe MPP Caroline Mulroney said Southlake plays a critical role for the residents of her riding in York Region and south Simcoe and called the investment "a major win for our community."

King-Vaughan MPP Stephen Leche said the news was a positive step forward to eliminating hallway health care.

Also present were mayors Virginia Hackson, East Gwillimbury, Tom Mrakas, Aurora, Margaret Quirk, Georgina, Rob Keffer, Bradford West Gwillimbury, as well as Southlake staff, physicians and board members.

According to Southlake's website, the number of annual visits to the emergency department increased almost 96 per cent from 57,000 in 2003 to 112,000 visits in 2019-20 and it has the largest number of 'unconventional' or hallway beds in the central region of the province.