About 100 people turned out last Wednesday to celebrate the grand opening of the newly-renovated Emo Health Centre.
For family and friends of the late Dr. John O’Sullivan, the dedication of the long-term care wing to him was the highlight of the ceremony.
Nurse Sylvia Hyatt gave a speech about Dr. O’Sullivan, recalling when he first came to Emo in January, 1964.
“First, our sons were friends and then he became our family doctor,” she said. “Then I ended up working with him when I became a nurse.”
Hyatt recalled how Dr. O’Sullivan quickly became a fixture in the community as, at one time, he was the only doctor serving Emo and the surrounding area.
“I only wish he could see the hospital now that it’s renovated and re-opened. I’m sure he’s watching us from somewhere,” she remarked.
Dr. O’Sullivan’s wife, Gerd, as well as his son, James, daughter, Deidre, and granddaughter, Sarah, were on hand for the tearful dedication.
“I think my husband would have been very pleased with the facility,” Gerd O’Sullivan said. “He fought very hard to keep it open over the years, and at times, there were doubts.”
The tribute to Dr. O’Sullivan was preceded by room dedications for sponsors who contributed $20,000 or more to the Riverside Foundation for Health Care.
The sponsors and their respective rooms include:
•Voyageur Panel Ltd.--urgent care examination room;
•Township of Emo--lounge & activity centre;
•Township of Chapple--front terrace;
•Ted & Ynske Kaemingh and family--main lobby;
•M.C. Judson Trucking Ltd.--family room;
•Township of La Vallee--radiology;
•Emo & Area Hospital Auxiliary--rehabiliation services; and
•Joseph W. Parris (in memory of Helen Parris)--quiet room.
The donor wall, located in the main lobby, also was unveiled last Wednesday. It lists 150 individuals and businesses that have contributed to the Foundation for the renovations at Emo.
While an open house was held there in January, just before patients were moved in, the fully-renovated health centre now houses the Emo clinic, dental centre, the Northwestern Health Unit, Valley Diabetes, dietitian services, chiropody, and community counselling, among others.
“It’s state-of-the-art. I think it’s fantastic,” remarked Jim Carmody.
“It’s a great facility for the community to have. And we have great staff working there,” he said, adding Dr. O’Sullivan is “greatly missed” but will always be remembered thanks to the dedication.
Others agreed. “It’s wonderful, in fact, it’s beautiful. It seems nicer and more spacious for the patients,” said Irene Meades
“I’m impressed. It’s great for Emo and the rural community,” echoed Jo Benson.
One visitor recalled the summer of 1969 when the Emo hospital first opened its doors. “I was here for the first grand opening. I helped build it in the first place,” said Maurice MacMillan.
“At that time, it was a 23-bed hospital. It’s got a different use now, so you can’t really compare them, but this is definitely impressive,” he added.
Likewise, staff of Riverside Health Care Facilities Inc. and members of the Foundation committee were thrilled by the renovations.
“I saw this facility before the renovations and all I can say is, ‘Wow, what a difference,’” said John McTaggart, chair of the “Care Close to Home” fundraising campaign.
“I’d like to thank the residents of the community for their patience,” said Craig Sanders, chair of the Riverside board of directors. “And the community’s donations and staff are appreciated.
“Without the hospital staff’s hard work, it wouldn’t be a health centre, but just a building.”
The ribbon-cutting ceremony, which included Sanders, nurse manager Edith Bodnar, Riverside CEO Wayne Woods, NDP leader and local MPP Howard Hampton, Emo Reeve Russ Fortier, and Maureen Judge of the Ministry of Health & Long-Term Care, was preceded by a presentation of a certificate by Audrey Anderson on behalf of local MP Robert Nault.
The public then got a chance to look around the hospital, or join board members and staff outside for a snack.