Shawville May 19, 2023
The Pontiac Community Hospital Foundation (FHC Pontiac) held a press conference to announce the expansion of the oncology facilities in the Pontiac Hospital last Friday.
FHC Pontiac raised over $30,000 to expand the facilities, which now has room for up to nine new chemotherapy chairs.
This recent effort follows the long tradition of the FHC Pontiac fundraising to add more and improve existing services at the hospital, as Dr. Thomas O’Neill detailed during his remarks at the event.
“The first project was an integrated monitoring system for the step-down unit, allowing us essentially to move people out of the intensive care and post-operative care area,” O’Neill said. “The second issue was the equipment for cataract surgery. It cost about $180,000 at the time, and we’ve done probably in excess of 2000 cataract surgeries here in this hospital since that time. We then raised $1.2 million for the first purchase of a CT scanner, which was probably our biggest challenge. And the next item was the purchase of additional colonoscopy equipment; I think this year we’ll get close to 1000 scopes in our hospital. The purchase of an echocardiogram machine for $350,000 to allow Dr. Karabastos to perform more detailed studies of the heart was another large purchase that we had. Then the raising of funds for the dialysis unit which is in excess of $600,000 of funds raised from the community. And now we have the construction costs for the oncology unit.”
The new facilities include a more spacious environment to treat cancer patients close to home, according to those who spoke.
“The success story has been the support of the population for their hospital,” O’Neill said. “There are many community organizations that have contributed to its success such as the Rotary Club, the Lions Club, the Pompiers de Fort-Coulonge, Caisse Populaire, the MRC, etc…”
O’Neill also gave special mention to the contributions from Hayes Funeral Home.
O’Neill then introduced Allan Dean, who was lauded as the man responsible for the current efforts in funding of the oncology unit.
Dean, along with other speakers, emphasized that while that nobody really wanted an oncology ward, it was sadly something that was desperately needed.
Dean explained some sobering statistics about the threat of cancer, ranging from its impact nationwide to its impact on the Pontiac.
“It is the leading cause of death in Canada and is responsible for 28 per cent of all deaths. On average, about 640 Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer each and every day,” Dean said.
In the Pontiac Hospital, “over the years in the calendar year 2020 and 2021, there have been 124 patients treated for chemo, and in the year 2021 and 2022, 116 patients were treated for chemo,” Dean explained.
While the expansion of the unit has long been identified as something necessary, it was until recently “put on a to-do list but never done,” according to Dean.
Dean then explained the $30,000 in construction work necessary for expanding the unit, which included tearing down a wall, complete resurfacing, crack filling, a new floor, and a completely new coat of paint.
“We currently have six functional chairs, the plan is to go to a full seven brand-new chairs. And we have the ability, heaven forbid we have to, but we have the ability to, expand to nine chairs if we do need so,” Dean said.
The event started with Dean putting the word out to solicit donations for four new chemotherapy chairs, which cost $3,000 each.
However, Pontiac MNA André Fortin committed to a donation during his remarks bringing the number of new chairs needed down to three.
Any individual or organization interested in making a donation can contact Dean or the Pontiac Community Hospital Foundation. Those who donate will receive a plaque recognizing their contribution, which will be displayed in the ward.
“There are oncology patients who come here regularly from this community, who we know and love. The people who treat them here know them and love them and want to make sure they get top-quality services. So it’s why we have to tip our hats to everybody at the foundation who gives their time, gives their energy and gives the gift of their own money,” Fortin said during his remarks.
Linda Kenopic, a 20-year oncology nurse at the Pontiac Hospital expressed her gratitude for the expanded oncology ward as well.
“I’m so thankful for this unit here today. So much so that I could almost cry, it’s been 20 years of waiting. We’ve been very crammed in this space, patients were in half this amount of space before,” Kenopic said. “So it’s with great joy that I like to thank the foundation.”
Kenopic also stressed the importance of having modern, purpose-built chemotherapy chairs.
“The chairs that we’re talking about today, we need those for oncology specifically, because those people are very weak and tired. They’re probably the sickest population in the hospital. So the chairs with the remote are very important for people like that,” she said.
FHC president Richard Grimard and CISSSO reps Natalie Romain and Nicole Boucher- Larivière also made remarks during the press conference.