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Trillium Health receives largest-ever charitable gift to a hospital

Posted: February 17, 2022

(Feb. 15, 2022)

By: Ben Cohen, Toronto Star

The planned Peter Gilgan Mississauga Hospital, shown in an artist’s rendering, will be the largest hospital in Canada once it’s completed in 2025.

Mississauga will become home to one of the largest hospitals in Canada in 2025, thanks, in part, to a historic multimillion-dollar charitable gift.

The $105 million donation from the Peter Gilgan Foundation — the largest charitable gift to a hospital in Canadian history — will allow Trillium Health Partners to improve two of its three sites, Mississauga Hospital and Queensway Health Centre, with the former set to be demolished and rebuilt and the latter having a new facility added to its grounds. These developments are also part of a 10-year, $30.2 billion investment in Ontario hospitals by the provincial government.

The new Mississauga Hospital, which begins construction in 2025, will be almost triple the size of its predecessor and will have the most beds of any single hospital building in the country. It’s planned to stand 24 storeys on the Queensway West site in Mississauga and cover approximately 2.8 million square feet. It will provide over 950 hospital beds, an increase of more than 200, and have 23 operating rooms, up from 14. The hospital will also have a larger emergency department — projected to be one of the largest in the province.

Demolition of the old hospital won’t happen until the new one is completed. All Trillium’s sites will operate as usual during construction. A spokesperson for the hospital said while the overall costs of the project will only be released once a developer is found, it will be a “multibillion-dollar project.”

The Gilgan Family Queensway Health Centre, now called the Queensway Health Centre, is shown in an artist’s rendering. The expansion of the hospital is set to be completed in 2024 through a donation from the Peter Gilgan Foundation.

Queensway Health Centre, located on Sherway Drive in Etobicoke, will have a new nine-storey building constructed in 2024, which will serve as a dedicated centre for complex care and rehabilitation. There will be space for over 350 beds there, and all rooms will be private.

Expanding hospital capacity in Ontario is crucial, as the province has fewer hospital beds per capita than any other in Canada and some of the “most overcrowded hospitals in the developed world,” according to the Ontario Health Coalition, a non-profit health-care advocacy network.

It’s especially important in Peel and Etobicoke. Accounting for projected population growth over the next 20 years, Ontario expects the need for health-care services provided by Trillium Health Partners will increase seven times more than that of the average Ontario hospital.

Karli Farrow, president and CEO of Trillium Health Partners, said she and her colleagues at the hospital felt “elated, thrilled and like the future is ours and very bright” when they heard the Peter Gilgan Foundation’s donation. Gilgan is a billionaire philanthropist and founder of Canada’s largest residential home builder, Mattamy Homes.

In his honour, Trillium will name its new hospital the Peter Gilgan Mississauga Hospital and rename Queensway Health Centre, the Gilgan Family Queensway Health Centre.

Prior to the donation, Farrow said she and other Trillium executives described to Peter Gilgan their need to “change health care overall” with the new hospital and create a “complete and inclusive system of care.” She said that means greater community outreach, extending health-care services beyond hospital doors and achieving new ways to allow patients to remain home during care.

Farrow said her vision for Trillium was always to have it connect more with the surrounding community. The pandemic proved to her just how necessary that is.

“What we learned in the pandemic is that the hospital has to extend its resources out to be there for the community,” said Farrow. “We had to think about not just who comes to the hospital, but how we can get out into the neighbourhoods that need us most.”

Trillium was one of the hardest-hit hospitals in Ontario in terms of the volume of COVID-19 patients it received, Farrow said. It took care of over 4,000 people hospitalized for COVID throughout the pandemic, or about a tenth of all COVID hospitalizations in the province.

The hospital also vaccinated over 500,000 people and continues to operate a mobile vaccination centre, which goes into neighbourhoods with lower vaccination rates.

Luke Gilgan, operational manager of his father Peter’s foundation, said the donation was made because the foundation recognized Trillium’s need to grow alongside the region it serves. On a personal level, it’s deeply rewarding to be able to assist with that, he said.

“To be in a position where we can do something of significance, that we know will have a huge impact on health care for many decades to come, is humbling and gratifying,” he said.

In 2018, Kevin Singh was brought back from the brink of death by Trillium hospital staff after cardiac arrest. He and his wife, Savitri, who was with him in the operating room when he flatlined, said they were overjoyed when they heard the hospital that saved him was being given such a large donation.

“I’m sure there’s hundreds of thousands of people like me who owe their lives to Trillium,” he said. “We’re blessed to have a place like it in the community.”