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St. Mary's Kitchener

Apr 2, 2020 By: Mark Pare

It was an all-encompassing conversation on the state of hospitals in Waterloo Region, dealing with hurdles they might be facing in the fight against COVID-19.

The three President and CEO’s of our hospitals — Ron Gagnon of Grand River Hospital, Lee Fairclough of St. Mary’s General Hospital and Patrick Gaskin of Cambridge Memorial Hospital — joined in on a special edition of The Mike Farwell Show on 570 NEWS Wednesday night.

Gagnon says the three of them are in constant communication with each other with multiple phone calls and texts at all hours of the day, as they collaborate on a strategy to deal with the pandemic together.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that my two colleagues wouldn’t hesitate to help if our organization needed it,” he said, “And I know we wouldn’t hesitate to help them either.”

One of the big issues is hospital capacity, more notably for intensive care.

Gagnon says the number of ICU beds is growing daily locally.

“Between the three hospitals, we’ve actually identified just shy of 430 more spaces that we will put into operation over the course of this,” he said.

As for extra space, Gagnon says they’re talking with hotels, as well as large facilities to meet what could be a “super-surge” in patients.

“We’re working very actively with people in the community to identify spaces outside of hospital,” he said.

As for having the equipment, Gagnon says his, and other hospitals, are working proactively in anticipation for what’s to come, and that includes identifying needs and working with supply chains.

“For the job we have to do right now, and up to the coming weeks, we believe that we do (have the equipment necessary),” he said.

Dr. Fairclough says the supply of personal protective equipment supply is a topic that comes up a lot.

“China was a major producer of the protective equipment we need,” she said, “They’re recovering from COVID now, so things are looking more encouraging.”

“We have the equipment staff needs when they come in to care for patients. We won’t be in a situation where that’s not the case.”

CLICK HERE to listen to the full conversation.

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)