Don’t forget those who championed new PECMH

Dear Editor/Jason,

What an incredible moment. Bay of Quinte MPP Todd Smith delivering the long-awaited official news that our new Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital will be built.

So nothing could have been more appropriate than Minister Smith holding aloft Al Capon’s book “This House Of Healing PECMH” and affirming = the next chapter in our essential hospital’s history is ready to be scribed.

And at last Friday’s announcement the well-deserved congratulations and hard-earned credits for this huge accomplishment were respectfully, and appropriately, distributed.  To embroider on those terrific acknowledgments, and to help assure that they make it into that next chapter, three personal moments come to mind.

The first happened at an Ontario Good Roads Association meeting in Toronto. Our County delegation had not been successful in securing a deputation with then Minister of Health Dr. Eric Hoskins; and then PEC Mayor Quaiff (another warrior for our hospital cause), and those Councillors attending desperately needed to meet Hoskins in-person to plead our case. Serendipitously, I mentioned this dilemma to Quinte West Mayor Jim Harrison who had been fortunate to land a Hoskins tete-a-tete to make his Trenton Memorial Hospital claim. Harrison didn’t skip a beat, saying “Come to our Hoskins deputation, you can use some of our time allocation to pitch your hospital too, no problem”. As the saying goes, “When times are tough you know who your friends are”; and our Quaiff-led delegation had their pivotal shot.

The second is Dr. Eric Hoskins himself. From the outset I knew, due to an unrelated aspect of my business life at the time, that his Ministry had little-to-no appetite for committing to or funding a new PEC hospital. But he had grown up in rural Ontario, and understood what our hospital in Picton meant to this community. Hoskins accepted a personal invitation to the County, he listened, he assessed, he questioned and he decided our PECM Hospital needed to move forward. So he made that happen and got us to Stage 2 in this critical process.

The third was Paul Huras, who I learned played a major role through the Southeast LHIN in shepherding our hospital project through the bureaucracy: we were one of only two current capital projects Huras brought forward. Of course there are many more stories, and hospital stalwart ex-Mayor Leo Finnegan could definitely write his own book.

But what this all underscores – for me anyway – is that, despite long odds and naysayers, when Prince Edward County pulls together and not apart, when we approach problems with compassion and collaboration, we can do just about anything.

It’s a gift of “home” and “healing” that not many others have, and it’s worth cherishing.

Sincerely,

Bill Roberts

PEC Councillor

Sophiasburgh (Ward 6)