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NEWS Mar 29, 2020 by Craig Campbell

Dundas Star News

Whether implementing life-saving protocols or keeping families connected, front-line staff at the St. Joseph’s Villa long-term care home are stepping up for at-risk residents during an unprecedented time.

Villa president John Woods said the Villa is an essential service – and the entire team are proud essential service workers.

“In every department, there are small acts of kindness and courage every day,” Woods said.

No personal visits inside or outside the building are allowed, other than limited exceptions for very ill residents or those requiring end-of-life care.

Villa registered practical nurse Elaine Ford said those necessary restrictions mean difficult times for residents and their families.

“At a time of concern, our residents are separated from their families. We’re seeing a lot of tears. We’re all doing our best to comfort them,” Ford said.

Ten therapeutic recreationists (TR) working in the Villa’s various residential areas keep elderly residents in contact with family and friends through phone and Skype video calls.

Staff arranged for a resident’s family members to wave to her, holding signs with personal messages, from the parking lot below.

“We had them call my work cell and they talked through the window,” said TR Pamela Tasane. “Everyone was crying – in a good way.”

On Friday, March 27 at 11 a.m., Villa staff held the first of what is planned to be a regular Let’s Make Noise event, where family members pull into the parking lot and honk their horns and make noise, letting residents know they’re there.

“The Villa team is getting creative in keeping connections strong while visiting is restricted,” said St. Joseph’s Villa Foundation chief development officer Sarena Paton. “This will be a weekly event, while the community and the country work together to keep people safe and healthy.”

Amanda Rip, a therapeutic recreationist, said her goal is to connect residents with their loved ones, and she feels fortunate to have that role.

In the past week, she has facilitated Skype and phone calls and birthday celebrations from the parking lot. She described it as social distancing at its finest.

“Seeing the happiness on a resident’s face when they see their loved ones, whether on the computer screen or across the parking lot singing ‘Happy Birthday,’ is truly a special moment,” Rip said.

The community, in return, is stepping up to show support for Villa front-line workers.

Paton said Dave Weber, senior partner of Sims Advertising and a Villa volunteer, ordered 300 slices of pizza for the Villa’s night shift and issued a challenge on social media.

“Frontline staff is demonstrating real care and compassion … it would be a good idea to send them some comfort food to say thanks,” Weber said.

Schuurman Greenhouse and Holland Park Garden Gallery dropped off hundreds of plants and flowers to thank staff and brighten residents’ spirits.

Villa administrator Mieke Ewen said it’s touching to see the community rally behind long-term care staff and residents.

“We feel it and we’re so grateful,” Ewen said. “This kindness gives us comfort and helps us get through all the changes and challenges.”

St. Joseph’s Villa Foundation president and CEO Don Davidson thanked the community for standing with the long-term care home.

“We’re so proud of the Villa’s front-line workers as they continue to care for, and protect, Villa residents,” he said. “Our sole focus right now is supporting the Villa through this crisis and emerging from this moment stronger and more united.”

Davidson said Margaret’s Place Hospice construction continues uninterrupted.

“We live in an incredible community that supports community,” he said. “Now more than ever, your support matters.”

Davidson and St. Joseph’s Villa Foundation board chair David Curto noted the significant role the institution’s front-line staff are playing in a letter to the community, that could not be published in the Dundas Star News due to COVID-19-related space reductions.

“As our country is grappling with protecting and maintaining the health and well-being of Canadians and lessening the impact on our health-care system, the Villa team continues to go above and beyond, without hesitation – just as they always do,” Davidson and Curto said.

As a result of our increasing focus on Ontario Health Teams and expansion of the Integrated Comprehensive Care initiatives, we are pleased to share the following leadership changes at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton and St. Joseph’s Villa Dundas.

Carolyn Gosse will be leaving her role as President of St. Joseph’s Villa Dundas, effective February 10th, 2020. She will continue her roles as President of St. Joseph’s Home Care as well as Vice President Integrated Care at St. Joseph’s Health System. In addition, she will continue as Lead of the Centre for Integrated Care.

Through our talent management process, John Woods has been identified as Carolyn’s replacement and will start as President of St. Joseph’s Villa Dundas on February 10th, 2020.

John joined St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton in 1998 as Director of Strategic Planning and has held several leadership roles of increasing responsibility including; Director of Research Services, Director of Quality Planning & Performance, Director of Medical Affairs, Risk & Legal, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives for the St. Joseph’s Health System, and most recently, Interim President for St. Mary’s General Hospital in Kitchener.

John holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from the University of London, a Master of Arts in Management Studies from Canterbury Christ Church University, and has completed the Advanced Health Leadership Program at the University of Toronto, Rotman School of Management.

John’s empathetic and relationship-based leadership style, with a focus on results, mission and strategy is highly valued and will be a great asset to the Villa.

The Board of Trustees of St. Mary’s General Hospital is pleased to announce that Ms. Lee Fairclough will be the new president of St. Mary’s. Ms. Fairclough is a seasoned healthcare leader with broad experience working with patients and healthcare partners to improve quality of care. She will begin her new role on January 6, 2020.

Lee Fairclough

Since 2014 Ms. Fairclough has been Vice President, Quality Improvement at Health Quality Ontario, the provincial advisory body for quality of healthcare. In that role, she has led the design and implementation of quality improvement programs and ensured the accelerated spread of proven models of care. Beginning in July of 2019, Ms. Fairclough has also served as an Interim Lead with the new Ontario Health agency, laying the foundations for a proposed Centre of Excellence in Mental Health and Addictions.

She was chosen as St. Mary’s incoming President after a national search by St. Mary’s Board of Trustees.

“Lee’s long and varied experience in Ontario’s healthcare system will be a tremendous asset to St. Mary’s,” said Dr. Thomas Stewart, President and Chief Executive Officer of St. Joseph’s Health System, of which St. Mary’s is a member, and Chief Executive Officer of Niagara Health. “Her recent leadership at Health Quality Ontario will undoubtedly propel us forward in our pursuit of the highest quality. Finally, her affable nature is the perfect fit for us.”

Scott Smith, Chair of St. Mary’s Board of Trustees said, “At this time of exciting health system transformation, Lee is the ideal leader to build on our standing as a national leader in patient safety and on our commitment to improving quality within St. Mary’s and beyond our walls.”

Ms. Fairclough said she is honoured and excited to join the team at St. Mary’s and to exchange ideas and innovations with colleagues at the St. Joseph’s Health System. “St. Mary’s is a really great fit, given its values and focus on quality improvement, transparency, and active engagement with service providers in the region,” she said.

“I am keen to work closer to the front lines of care again and to be deeply immersed in the issues of how to best serve patients and families in this community.”

Ms. Fairclough holds a master’s degree from the University of Toronto, Institute of Health Policy and Management. She trained as a Medical Radiation Therapist and provided cancer care to patients at Princess Margaret Hospital early in her career before moving into management in various roles at Princess Margaret and the University Health Network. She is also a former Vice President at the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer

A former competitive athlete in rugby, swimming and water polo, she was a member of the Canadian Women’s Rugby Team from 1995-1998 and was on the 1998 World Cup team.

“My sporting experiences have heavily influenced my approach to teamwork and leadership throughout my career,” said Ms. Fairclough. The Southampton native and outdoor enthusiast enjoys an active lifestyle with her husband and two sons, ages 10 and 13. She looks forward to building relationships within Kitchener-Waterloo and the many rural communities St. Mary’s serves.

John Woods, Interim President at St. Mary’s, will continue to lead St. Mary’s until early January 2020 when Ms. Fairclough begins her role.


About St. Mary’s General Hospital
St. Mary’s General Hospital, in Kitchener, is the second-largest acute care hospital in the St. Joseph’s Health System and one of Canada’s top Regional Cardiac Care Centres. True to its vision to be the safest and most effective hospital in Canada, St. Mary’s is a consistent leader in national safety measures. Nearly 2,000 staff, physicians and volunteers provide innovative, compassionate care to approximately 1 million residents of Waterloo Wellington and beyond. Key areas of clinical focus include cardiac care, respiratory care and thoracic surgery, outpatient day surgery, general medicine and emergency care.

About St. Joseph’s Health System
St. Joseph’s Health System is a unique 15-site health system partnership dedicated to pioneering innovative ways to improve the health of communities and a system-wide approach to health care through citizen-centred integrated care. We serve Niagara to Kitchener and beyond, and a population of more than 2 million.

St. Joseph’s Health System introduced its internationally recognized Integrated Comprehensive Care (ICC) program to the Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network in 2013, providing patients smoother transitions from hospital to home accompanied by one health care team and a 24/7 access to a clinician.


Anne Kelly
Manager, Communications
St. Mary’s General Hospital
519-749-6578, ext. 1501
226-339-1903 (mobile)