Cornwall Hospital is Celebrating 20 Years of Integrated Care in 2024

It was two decades ago, in January 2004, when a decision by the provincial government paved the way for the amalgamation of the city's two acute care hospitals – Hotel Dieu and Cornwall General – into the Cornwall Community Hospital, McConnell Site or Second Street Site. Aligned with a provincial directive, this merger aimed to enhance local healthcare by sharing resources and services under one board and administration. The ensuing two decades for CCH have been an extraordinary journey of growth, integration and innovation to meet the growing needs of our communities in Cornwall, the SDG Counties, and Akwesasne. We invite you to explore the past two decades of integrated care at CCH, guided by a shared vision: to deliver Exceptional Care. Always.

2004: Dawn of a New Era for Healthcare in Cornwall

While the hospital's historical roots extend beyond Confederation, it was two decades ago this month that a decision by the provincial government paved the way for the amalgamation of the city's two acute care hospitals – Hotel Dieu and Cornwall General – into the Cornwall Community Hospital, McConnell Site or Second Street Site, operating under one board and administration.

Aligned with a provincial directive, CCH, alongside other Ontario hospitals, embraced a vision of merging to create larger healthcare organizations within their communities. The primary objective was to enhance the hospital's capacity to meet the healthcare needs of the patient population by sharing resources and services guided by a unified vision and administration.

The anticipation of this significant shift was palpable, captured by a front-page headline in the Cornwall Standard-Freeholder on December 26th, 2003, proclaiming, "A new era dawns at city hospitals."

Michael Warden, the inaugural Board Chair of the newly formed Cornwall Community Hospital, expressed the vision, stating, "We will begin to better serve the needs of the community through better integration and better access to services."

March 2004 saw former Minister of Health George Smitherman visiting Cornwall Hospital to unveil the new and still current hospital logo.

The amalgamation also paved the way for conversations and planning around a new fully integrated hospital campus. In April 2004, the hospital revealed the initial conceptual design for the future acute care facility, laying the groundwork for what Cornwall could come to expect for healthcare delivery.

Pictured below: Cornwall Community Hospital's McConnell and Second Street Sites, formerly the Hotel Dieu and Cornwall General Hospital.

McConnell Site

Second Street Site


Pictured below: the original 2004 conceptual design for the future consolidated McConnell Avenue campus. You'll notice many resemblances between the original conceptual drawing in 2004 and today's West Wing.Conceptual Design





2004-2008: Beginnings of Consolidation

Following amalgamation, by 2006, the hospital successfully consolidated its Emergency services at McConnell, followed by the completion of the "Early Works Project" in 2008, which involved renovations to consolidate the Critical Care Unit and Birthing suites for enhanced access, resource sharing and improved patient care and visitor experiences.

Today the space that once housed the former emergency department prior to the redevelopment is now the ambulatory care clinic.

Pictured below: The former Emergency Department consolidated at the McConnell Site. Today this area is home to the Ambulatory Clinic Entrance.

ER 2010

2009-2014: New West Wing Construction

Despite the consolidation of some services at the McConnell Avenue site, the overarching objective was the establishment of a new facility. Envisioning the future, the goal was to unite all services within a state-of-the-art hospital campus on McConnell Avenue. This ambitious plan aimed to create a centralized and streamlined care experience, providing many advantages for both patients and visitors. The hospital had unveiled its conceptual designs for this new facility in 2004.

The province endorsed this vision, approving the Redevelopment Project, which included the construction of a new 95,000 square-foot West Wing addition to the McConnell Site. In 2009, CCH officially broke ground, initiating the construction of a modern, consolidated acute care hospital. Over the next several years, the McConnell Site transformed into a bustling construction zone, contributing significantly to the local trade and hospitality industry, and generating more than 100,000 hours of construction manpower.

The Redevelopment Project unfolded in three phases: Phase I involved site preparation and infrastructure enhancements, Phase II focused on constructing the addition, and Phase III encompassed the internal renovation of the original tower, culminating in early 2014.

Despite the challenges, CCH teams adapted and ensured uninterrupted care delivery throughout the construction.

The $126 million project was mostly funded by the province with substantial contributions from our municipalities and the community through the Cornwall Community Hospital Foundation, demonstrating the community’s profound commitment to the enhancement of their new hospital.

Pictured below: CEO Jeanette Despatie alongside community partners breaking ground for the new build in 2009.

Groundbreaking 2009 

Pictured below: the McConnell Site transformed into a bustling construction zone.

 McConnell Construction1

McConnell Construction2

 McConnell Construction3

McConnell Construction4 

McConnell Construction5 

McConnell Construction7 

2014-2015: A Vision Realized - New West Wing Unveiled

A significant milestone unfolded in March 2013, marking the culmination of a four-year construction project as we moved into and operationalized the new West Wing. The final phase of the redevelopment project reached completion as scheduled in 2014.

The state-of-the-art, 95,000 square-foot West Wing boasted more spacious and illuminated rooms, new equipment, additional services, and cutting-edge technology. Six new state-of-the-art operating rooms, the innovative Rose and Dave Bloomfield Diagnostic Centre of Excellence, an upgraded emergency department, a day surgery area, and the latest medical technology underscored the facility's commitment to advancing high-quality healthcare.

The West Wing prioritized the healthcare experience by incorporating features like 37' glass walls, allowing abundant natural light to permeate patient and visitor areas. This not only improved task performance but also positively impacted mood and perception.

The closure of the Second Street site in 2014 marked a pivotal moment, with all services and staff transitioning to the newly consolidated West Wing, officially forming the fully integrated and advanced hospital campus on McConnell Avenue as envisioned.

The community responded with excitement during this period. Open houses drew eager community members. The official ribbon-cutting ceremony on April 25, 2015, was attended by over 200 dignitaries. The new West Wing became the focal point of conversations throughout town. Residents throughout Cornwall, SDG and Akwesasne had a healthcare facility they could be proud of, right in their own backyard.

CCH Exterior 

Pictured below: the ribbon cutting ceremony of the new West Wing in April 2015 and visitors during the community open houses take in the new state-of-the-art facility.


Pictured below: The new West Wing introduced a new Emergency Department, modern operating rooms, and brand new diagnostic imaging equipment in the Rose and David Bloomfield Diagnostic Centre of Excellence. CCH ED

OR Suites


2004-2014: Leaps in Diagnostic Services

Since amalgamation in 2004, CCH has been dedicated to enhancing diagnostic services for patients in our community. In the mid-2000s, post-amalgamation, CCH embarked on a progressive path by introducing state-of-the-art x-ray equipment to replace conventional systems. A significant milestone occurred in 2007 with the implementation of the Picture Archiving Communication System (PACS), a technology still in use today. This innovation transformed CCH into a filmless and paperless radiology environment, enhancing workflow, enabling remote reading, expediting report turnaround time, and elevating the quality of patient care.

The year 2008 marked another stride as CCH became an official site for the Ontario Breast Screening Program, ensuring that local women aged 50 and over benefit from regular mammography screening. Subsequent to the construction and opening of the hospital's new West Wing in 2013, the Rose and David Bloomfield Diagnostic Centre of Excellence was established, bringing forth significant improvements to diagnostic services. This state-of-the-art facility featured brand-new equipment, including a CT scanner, obstetrical ultrasound equipment, and an MRI machine, transforming CCH into a versatile and modern healthcare facility.

Within a decade, CCH transitioned from conventional equipment and film imaging in an antiquated environment to the introduction of new high-tech facility with the latest digital equipment, including the MRI, enabling comprehensive body scanning. These technological advancements eliminated the need for patients to travel between hospital sites or seek treatment out of town, ensuring they received the highest-quality care right here in Cornwall.

The hospital continues to innovate its diagnostic imaging services. In 2021, CCH became one of just a few hospitals in Canada to offer a procedure called Radioactive Seed Localization, a specialized procedure that significantly improves the precision of identifying breast tumors. This innovative approach replaces the traditional wire localization method with the use of safe radioactive seeds, enhancing both safety and accuracy in the process. In 2022, CCH became an Accredited Echocardiography Facility, ensuring we provide the highest quality echocardiogram services possible.

Today, our Rose and David Bloomfield Diagnostic Centre of Excellence conducts over 100,000 diagnostic imaging exams annually, symbolizing our commitment to providing cutting-edge diagnostic services to the communities we serve.





2016: Expanding Services with the Introduction of Chemotherapy

In February 2016, building on our framework of offering full service, integrated care, dignitaries and project stakeholders cut the ribbon to officially open a new Chemotherapy Clinic at CCH, a satellite location of the Regional Cancer Centre at the Ottawa Hospital. This service had long been a community request and identified as a crucial need for several years. The new West Wing introduced several technological enhancements and additional capacity to accommodate the new clinic.

For the first time, local cancer patients no longer needed to travel outside of Cornwall to receive essential chemotherapy treatments. The Clinic, equipped with 8 chairs, today serves an average of 10 to 15 patients per day, saving those affected by cancer dozens of round trips each year. A “Bravery Bell” is also installed in the Clinic. When a patient rings the Bravery Bell, it announces that they have finished their treatment and serves as a sign of hope for both them and other patients.

The Cornwall Community Hospital Foundation (CCHF) played a significant role in making this vision become reality. With the help of community donors, the CCHF raised $400,000 in one year to help buy the necessary equipment required to administer the treatment.

Pictured below: community partners and CCH and CCHF staff cut the ribbon to open the new Chemotherapy Unit in February 2016. Photo taken by Bill Kingston, Cornwall Newswatch. 

 Chemo Chairs

Chemo Bell 

2016: Digital Integration of Electronic Health Records

In December 2016, following the completion of the major redevelopment project that consolidated all acute care services onto one campus, CCH implemented a cutting-edge Electronic Health Record (EHR) system to align digital health systems with the needs of our state-of-the-art facility, teams and patients.

This centralized, electronic medical record system operates in real-time, providing immediate access to patient information, including vitals, lab results, and x-rays for nurses, physicians, and clinicians.

The EHR system facilitates seamless communication, critical alert dissemination, and ensures accuracy in prescriptions and medication distribution. By implementing this system, CCH positioned itself as a regional and provincial healthcare leader, enhancing patient safety, increasing operational efficiencies, and fostering collaboration both internally and with external partners.

With the new system, CCH also positioned itself as an innovative digital health leader by achieving a HIMSS Stage 6 designation, a value out of 7 stages to indicate the successful adoption of an electronic health record. At the time, CCH was just one of twelve hospitals in Canada to have received such designation.

The EHR played a major role in CCH receiving Exemplary Standing from Accreditation Canada in 2019. In 2021, the hospital introduced the MyChart Patient Portal, which pulls data from the EHR and provides patients with access to their hospital medical records at the tip of their fingers. In 2022, CCH became the first hospital in Canada to integrate its EHR with SeamlessMD for remote pre and post-surgical monitoring for improved patient engagement and outcomes. The recent integration of the EHR with local long-term care facilities through the Ontario eHub exemplifies the system’s continued significant contributions to patient-centered care as well as our growth, sustainability, and digital integration.

Arguably as impactful as the capital redevelopment project, the integration of the EHR system has proven to be a game-changer for CCH.

Pictured below: the original EHR implementation project team in December 2016.


2017: Community Addiction and Mental Health Services

In 2013, Addiction Services of Eastern Ontario (ASEO) merged with CCH Community Mental Health Services, aligning with the transformation of Cornwall Hospital's Withdrawal Management Service from a residential to a community-based model.

This change led to enhancements in the local addiction system's integration. Prior to these changes, there were limited opportunities for staff and programming intersection. Consequently, a gap in service existed between withdrawal management and addiction outpatient services. Now, clients who are in the Withdrawal Management Service can, if they wish, be referred quickly to outpatient services.

The new withdrawal management model, has a community outreach component, enabling clients to undergo withdrawal from a drug/alcohol safely within their home environment. Clients may also choose to use a day bed within the centre to support their withdrawal. This approach fosters increased family involvement, providing opportunities for education, support, and referrals to family members, contributing to the client's likelihood of achieving success.

While this amalgamation brought several benefits in terms of resource sharing and improved access to care, additional efforts were required to unify these services under one roof. On October 9th, 2015, project stakeholders and dignitaries “broke ground” for a new Community Addiction and Mental Health Services Centre to be constructed on the McConnell Avenue campus. This pivotal chapter reached its culmination on May 26, 2017, when dignitaries and stakeholders once again gathered to officially cut the ribbon, marking the official opening of this transformative centre.

Strategically located across from the emergency department, the new centre, staffed with a dedicated team of mental health and addiction specialists, nurses, and social workers, seamlessly combined adult and youth mental health and addiction services that were previously dispersed across different sites in Cornwall. This initiative not only consolidated services but also introduced much-needed capacity, enabling the treatment of more clients and reducing wait times.

The CAMHS centre could also not have been made possible without our Cornwall Community Hospital Foundation (CCHF) and its supporters, from organizations and local businesses to individual donors across SDG and Akwesasne. Over the course of three years, thanks to numerous events, pledges, and fundraising, CCHF successfully raised $1.1 million towards our capital campaign.

Pictured below: Community partners gather to "break ground" on the new Community Addiction and Mental Health Services Centre in October 2015. Fast forward to two years later, the same partners gather to officially cut the ribbon and open the new Community Addiction and Mental Health Services Centre in May 2017.

CAMHS groundbreaking 

CAMHS opening 

CAMHS building 

2019: Advancing Caregiver Engagement

Since the 2004 amalgamation of CCH, a concerted effort has been made to engage and involve caregivers actively. A testament to this commitment is the Embrace Family Caregiver Centre, which opened in October 2019, marking an innovative support service for caregivers in the Eastern Champlain region. This unique facility provides caregivers with a dedicated space, featuring a lounge, kitchenette, family meeting room, and information on various medical conditions, along with caregiver support resources.

The Embrace Family Caregiver Centre stands as a significant achievement arising from CCH's Changing CARE: Embrace project, one of only four caregiving-focused initiatives across the province, developed in collaboration with the Change Foundation. Originally aimed at enhancing the experience of family caregivers in the addiction and mental health system, the Centre now extends its inclusive support environment across all departments and services.

Recognizing the importance of family caregiver support in the community's health and wellbeing, CCH takes pride in providing a dedicated space for those who selflessly care for others. The hospital continues to advance its commitment to caregiver engagement, exemplified by the recent launch of the Essential Caregiver Program, underscoring CCH's ongoing dedication to recognizing and valuing the essential role played by caregivers in the continuum of care. When CCH was last accredited with Exemplary Standing by Accreditation Canada in 2019, it was noted that the hospital's caregiver and family engagement played a role in the decision.

Pictured below: members of the Change Foundation and CCH pose for a photo during a funding announcement on March 8th, 2017.

Change Foundation 

Pictured below: CCH staff and caregivers officially open the new Family Caregiver Centre in October 2019. 

FCC Opening 

2021: District Stroke Centre Designation

In early 2021, Ontario Health officially designated CCH as a District Stroke Centre in the Champlain Region. This designation positioned CCH as the central hub for patients in Eastern Champlain requiring stroke care. The achievement was the result of several clinical milestones since amalgamation, including becoming a tele-stroke site in 2010 and implementing top-notch acute care practices such as the Stroke Prevention Clinic.

In 2022, CCH built on these achievements with the opening of a dedicated Acute Stroke Unit with 10 designated beds for patients with an acute stroke diagnosis requiring hospital admission. The unit is staffed by a specially trained, multidisciplinary team of doctors, nurses, therapists, and others, who work with stroke patients and their families to determine the next steps for recovery.

In 2023, CCH announced it was now administering a new cutting-edge clot-busting medication to treat acute ischemic stroke patients called Tenecteplase (TNK), a faster acting, more effective and safer alternative to the traditional clot dissolving drug tPA. This innovation marked an important leap forward for stroke care in the community and was made possible thanks to the hospital’s District Stroke Centre Designation.

Pictured below: Emergency Department staff pose with the department's new tele-stroke unit, February 2019. 


Pictured below: dignitaries and CCH staff cut the ribbon to open the hospital's new and first of its kind Acute Stroke Unit in Eastern Ontario.

acute stroke unit 

2020-2023: COVID-19 Response

It was Family Day Weekend in February 2020 when President & CEO Jeanette Despatie received the call that CCH would need to prepare for the arrival of Canadian passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship. The Canadian passengers aboard the ship, which had been plagued by a severe outbreak of COVID-19, were being repatriated and brought to the Nav Centre in Cornwall for quarantine. The Nav Centre was chosen as the quarantine site for these passengers as nearby military basses did not have the capacity to accommodate them and the required infection control measures; and the Federal Government had an existing ongoing relationship with the Nav Centre to house refugees when needed. CCH was to provide medical support and be on standby to treat patients in hospital should they fall ill. With that, Cornwall and CCH were thrust onto the national stage, and our community hospital would become one of the first hospitals in Canada to prepare for a pandemic which had yet to be declared by the World Health Organization until several weeks later.

There's no doubt that the unforeseen challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic tested the resilience of CCH. At times, it was not easy nor was it always smooth. However, driven by the hard work and dedication of our teams, and the investments made over the years in consolidating and enhancing services since 2004, we were positioned to respond effectively and navigate a strong recovery on behalf of our community. Enhanced infrastructure and technology, digital connectivity, integrated mental health and addiction services, and a consolidated campus with increased capacity and an improved emergency department provided flexibility and adaptability to evolving needs. Some examples include the quick installation of the Assessment Centre and Vaccination Clinic as well as our hospital's ability to implement surge capacity as needed.

Pictured below: Staff in the COVID-19 Assessment Centre in early 2022, which operated for the majority of the pandemic within in the Community Addiction and Mental Health Services Centre, before moving to the Main Entrance once the Vaccination Clinic had ceased operations.

Assessment Centre

Pictured below: staff in universal precautions wearing PPE transport a patient through the hospital in the early days of the pandemic.

COVID Staff 

2023 - Present: Looking to the Future

Looking ahead, the future looks bright for CCH. As we stand proud of our accomplishments over the past two decades, CCH is positioned to meet the future needs of the community thanks to our investments over the past 20 years, and guided by our shared vision of providing Exceptional Care. Always. and a strong Strategic Plan. 

Recently our acquisition of the property at 825 McConnell Avenue underscores our commitment to maintaining a consolidated hospital campus for the foreseeable future. A vision 20 years in the making has been realized, and it's ours to build upon to meet the ever growing and changing needs of our communities.

 Aerial View