2004: Dawn of a New Era for Healthcare in Cornwall
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
March 2004 saw
former Minister of Health George Smitherman visiting Cornwall Hospital to
unveil the new and still current hospital logo.
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.
below: Cornwall Community Hospital's McConnell and Second Street Sites,
formerly the Hotel Dieu and Cornwall General Hospital.
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.
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
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
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.
Pictured below: the McConnell Site transformed into a bustling construction zone.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
Pictured below: CCH staff and caregivers officially open the new Family Caregiver Centre in October 2019.
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
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.
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.
Pictured below: staff in universal precautions wearing PPE transport a patient through the hospital in the early days of the pandemic.
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