Recent months have been extremely challenging ones for hospitals in Ontario, including the two that make up the Rouge Valley Health System.
However trying these challenges, our staff and physicians rose to the occasion with an outstanding level of professionalism and dedication. We should all be proud of Rouge Valley's performance during the recent SARS outbreaks. We were a major participant in SARS, opening one of the few screening clinics in the Toronto area, and treating close to 50 active cases, without any transmissions. As a result, Rouge Valley developed a well-deserved reputation for protecting staff and patients.
In October, we launched a brand new values, vision and mission for the hospitals. Created through a process that involved stakeholders at all levels, this new document will serve as a guiding principle for our activities and day-to-day decision making as we go forward.
And, as we go forward, there are many challenges still ahead. Like many hospitals in Ontario, Rouge Valley faces some serious funding and financial issues.
As we tackle these issues, let me assure community members and staff alike that we are still committed to two strong hospital sites, with a wide-range of services, including maintaining 24-hour emergency departments. In the next year or two, in line with our strategic plan (link) we will be looking at how we best deliver services across our two sites to ensure the best quality for our patients and their families.
We strongly believe that despite the funding increases we have received over the years, we have a responsibility, as stewards of the taxpayers' money, to continue to look for new and innovative ways of delivering healthcare services. We believe this means working as a system between our two sites and confirming partnerships with neighbouring hospitals and primary healthcare providers in the community.
This spring, Durham Regional Council agreed to make a $3.5 million contribution to the Rouge Valley Health System Foundation's "Vital Links" campaign to support the redevelopment of Rouge Valley Ajax and Pickering. This is the largest gift ever received by the Foundation and brings the total now raised or pledged to the Rouge Valley's $34 million Vital Links Campaign to $23.2 million. Our sincere thanks to Durham Region and all the other donors who continue to make it possible for us to offer excellent care to the people of West Durham and East Toronto – less