Skip to content

'Mission critical': Newmarket hospital gets feedback on its future

As it deals with challenges that go beyond building a new hospital, Southlake gathers input for a new strategic plan from residents at a community consultation

Southlake Regional Health Centre wants to chart a new path forward and sought the input of Newmarket residents to help figure out the best way to do so.

Southlake hosted a public consultation session in Newmarket May 28 as it prepares to create a new strategic plan. Hospital officials asked a crowd of more than 30 attendees at the Newmarket Community Centre and Lions Hall about their health-care expectations, how Southlake should communicate and plans to build a new hospital site.

Southlake president and CEO Paul Woods said the hospital faces tough challenges and pressures and the answer goes beyond just building more space.

“No jurisdiction in the world, including Ontario, has enough money to spend their way out of it,” Woods said, but added it represents “an opportunity to do something different, something better. That’s what this is really all about.”

The hospital is hosting consultations in the communities it serves, after wrapping up a five-year strategic plan and preparing to craft a new one amid many challenges ahead.

Southlake executive vice-president of clinical services and chief operating officer Derek McNally highlighted how growth in the area represents a challenge to Southlake going forward. Southlake has had no acute care expansion since 2003 and only managed a 34 per cent increase in beds, while its emergency department visits have more than doubled annually to 119,074 per year.

McNally said a solution may be found in providing health care in settings beyond hospitals.

“Patients don't want to be in a hospital, they want to be at home, and they want to be cared for in other places than the hospital, and it’s our job to make sure that happens,” he said. “It’s mission critical that we get this right as we move forward.”

Southlake facilitators asked attendees a series of different questions, including:

1. Picture Southlake in 2034. What would you like your family, friends and neighbours to be saying about us?

2. How would you describe the current health-care needs and challenges within the community?

3. What are your expectations for quality of care, patient safety and patient experience while at Southlake?

4. How can Southlake contribute to promoting health and wellness initiatives within the community?

5. How can we make sure our strategy reflects the diverse needs and perspectives of the community we serve?

6. Southlake has developed a plan to build a new hospital at a new location and redevelop our current Davis Drive site. What do you think are the most important factors in deciding where to locate the new sites?

Participants offered input on ideas like Southlake reaching out more to the community through event presence, enhancing diversity initiatives and ensuring the Newmarket hospital site has good use whenever the next hospital site, which likely won't be in Newmarket, comes into place.

Newmarket resident Ann Burness said the discussion was a good start, and it was nice to join the conversation.

“Southlake has a lot of work to do, I think, to catch up to where we need to be within the community,” she said, but added, "I really believe that there is strong potential.”

The input from the session will be included a summary report. Southlake then plans to create a new 10-year strategy, with a draft expected by September or October.

“We’ve gotten great feedback,” director of strategy Shannon Brett told participants. "Everything you said tonight is so consistent with everything we’re hearing at these communities and internally.”

Newmarket Mayor John Taylor recounted how Southlake has been part of caring for his family over the years and said it is a huge part of the life of many who live in Newmarket.

“Southlake has been there for us,” he said. “It’s so important that we, collectively, this room as a representative of the broader community, are here to support Southlake. To stand beside Southlake and to think through the future with Southlake so that we can be sure we’re leaving the next generations the health care they deserve.” 

Southlake is hosting one more public engagement session in Aurora on June 13 at 100 John West Way. You can sign up and get more information through Eventbrite