“When we were transferred back to Soldiers’, the hospital was full, but they made room for us. A new hospital would make a world of difference for these heroes.”
Born and raised in Orillia, Maggie got to know Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital intimately when not just one but two of her children battled major health issues as infants.
Aunika, now six, experienced complications at birth which essentially left her without an immune system. Soldiers’ doctors, nurses and staff went out of their way to provide top-notch care, acting as a support system and gateway to a much wider network since the on-site facilities were not equipped to complete all of Aunika’s tests or surgeries.
Years later, when her newborn daughter Aurora contracted Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), Maggie was devastated and couldn’t believe her family “hit that roulette wheel twice.” Again, Soldiers’ immediately rallied behind them to provide the same outstanding care they had given to Aunika, despite limited resources.
As her daughters grew and recovered, Maggie came to understand what could be possible if a new hospital is built, and the tremendous impact more NICU beds, more operating rooms, improved equipment and better basic infrastructure would have on the community.
Maggie’s story speaks to the strength of the greater Orillia region. Families like hers deserve the best facilities, for today and tomorrow.
“For over a decade, each clinical area of this hospital has been past capacity. It’s a very disruptive way to provide care for patients in our community.”
Dr. Barnett has a life-long connection to Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital that continues to grow today. He was born here. He received life-saving care from the beloved team here as an infant. And, after growing up in the community and becoming a doctor, there was only one place he wanted to spend his medical career—here. Initially returning to the hospital as a resident, Dr. Barnett has worked his way through many departments, including in-patient care, obstetrics, and emergency, where he has now been the Chief of Emergency Medicine for 10 years. Working in all of these roles has given him a holistic view of the hospital—what works, and what doesn’t.
Dr. Barnett, like all healthcare workers in Canada, is no stranger to having to adapt, compromise and improvise as needed along the way. In his words: “We’ve made do with what we have and we do what we can, but there have been limitations and we’ve had to cut corners because of the limitations of the building.”
With our emergency department wait times increasing by 25% over the last 10 years, our doctors know firsthand the toll delays in care have on our patients. Cramped conditions and hallway medicine can have a profound impact, ultimately resulting in poor patient experiences and longer wait times in the ED.
Still, Dr. Barnett looks to tomorrow with hope for a new hospital to continue providing the best care to his growing community. He knows the future of medicine is evolving just as much as Orillia.
“This community has been so instrumental in supporting this hospital, and now we need support from the government to help us do this to a greater extent.”
When Ligaya and her partner were considering relocating and starting a family, they wanted to move to an area with a strong community hospital that would not only accept but embrace them as LGBTQ+ parents.
They found what they were looking for in Orillia.
With the birth of their twins, Ligaya and her partner had an extended stay at OSMH while the maternity ward was at capacity. Nurses and staff did everything they could to accommodate them, repurposing a storage closet into a room, to make sure Ligaya’s new family could stay together. Above all else, they made sure Ligaya and her partner felt like they were part of the community like all new mothers who walk through their doors.
Ligaya’s twins are now 10 years old, and the family can only imagine what could have been achieved with better resources. Ligaya wants to make sure families of tomorrow have more appropriate spaces to welcome babies into the world than repurposed storage closets.
“My surgeon here at Soldiers’ couldn’t perform the surgery at this hospital not because he wasn’t knowledgeable enough to do it, but because he didn’t have the equipment.”
Barb has received care at Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital since she was a child. As a long-term resident of Orillia and a former social worker, she has seen the hospital serve as a centre of the community for decades. Still, Barb encountered challenges navigating the hospital and the hospital system, which inspired her to seek better facilities for Orillia.
Ultimately, it was her role as her mother’s palliative caregiver that helped her understand some of the aging hospital’s shortcomings. She saw a lack of basic infrastructure and amenities—not enough private rooms and bathrooms, including entire floors without bathroom access for visiting family members. Barb is a strong believer that the basics need to be taken care of because those are the things people don’t have the capacity to think about when they’re sick.
She gained a new perspective on the hospital’s deficiencies when she was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer 10 days following her mother’s passing. Barb suddenly found herself in need of vital surgery. She says the staff and doctors at Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital went above and beyond providing support, but she had to leave the region for care because Soldiers’ did not have the modern facilities and equipment to conduct her life-saving surgery.
Barb believes Orillia deserves a larger, modern hospital that matches the strength of the human spirit of the care providers at Soldiers’.
“At this hospital, you’re always robbing Peter to pay Paul. The demand on this hospital is too great.”
After retiring and moving to Orillia, Bob continued his life of community service as a volunteer at Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital.
But Bob’s experience at Soldiers’ is not limited to a service role. He has also been a patient, receiving treatment for cancer and a heart attack. While undergoing these treatments, he became aware of the difference modern health facilities can make.
The staff and doctors at Soldiers’ provided great care, but it soon became clear to him that the outdated, patchwork building is restricted by its physical limitations, and that a new, modern hospital could support even better patient care closer to home.
Spending so much time at the hospital, Bob sees the daily struggle of the staff to find space for patients. He has come to know Soldiers’ as a second home, volunteering where he also continues to receive care, and he wants to see the staff, patients, and the community set up for success.
“It’s like me, I’m old and I need pills. The hospital is old, and it needs a big pill.”
Betsy has made supporting Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital her life-long mission. She has always approached things with a practical mindset and a deep love for the people who walk through the hospital’s doors.
Betsy may be getting older, but like the hospital, her spirit remains strong. Just as she needs a pill or two to help her body along, she says, “The hospital is [also] old and needs a big pill.”
As a volunteer, Betsy says she sees the doctors and staff at Soldiers’ always manage to treat everyone with respect, despite the tough physical conditions they often work in. It is for this reason, Betsy wants people to know they shouldn’t have to go elsewhere to receive care. If a new hospital is built, it will allow more people in the community to receive the care they deserve closer to home.
Betsy believes Orillia needs a new hospital because while it already has the spirit, it needs new tools and resources. The building needs to be replaced, with the heart left intact.