By Sarah Downey, President & CEO
Last year, around this time, I had just been named as the incoming President & CEO of our hospital.
I remember feeling nervous, excited and thrilled all at once. These feelings somehow reminded me of the times when my younger brother, Geoffrey, would drag me on a roller coaster at a theme park. He liked the thrill rides; I was a bit more cautious.
Well, when I started this Toronto East adventure, little did I know the kind of ride I’d stepped on to…2015 has been an exciting one so far!
This past year we’ve seen leadership changes, took major steps toward the start of our redevelopment project, received several awards for our work, prepared for the PanAm Games and most recently, received a $50M gift from the Garron Family – the largest donation to a community hospital in Canada. And we’ve done all of this as well as provide the best care every day.
2016 also promises much change and renewal; twists and turns.
First, in recognition of the incredibly generous donation of $50 million announced this month, we’ll be changing our name to the Michael Garron Hospital, part of the Toronto East Health Network.
And we can’t ignore the possibility of some challenges as well, such as the pending flu season, continued funding constraints and possible changes to the system of healthcare delivery in Ontario.
But I know at this hospital, when we’re faced with adversity, we collectively pull together and roll up our sleeves. That’s the way it’s always been at our hospital. And that won’t change.
We need your talent, guidance and continued support as we embark on an exciting new journey – a new ride – to develop a network that we believe has the potential to make East Toronto the healthiest community in Canada.
On behalf of my Senior Team colleagues, Carmine Stumpo, Wolf Klassen, Ian Fraser, Irene Andress, Ralph Fernando, Robert Orr and Mitze Mourinho, thank you for all you have done to make this hospital great. We know you’ll continue to help us set new standards of excellence under our new name, both inside and outside the hospital walls. As with every holiday season, the Senior Team traditionally releases a greeting video. Enjoy…and have a “Rockin’ Holiday Season and New Year!”
Looking forward to sharing 2016 with all of you. A new adventure awaits. I’m ready for the ride, are you?
By Dr. Rajiv Singal, Urologist & Foundation Board Member
I cannot begin to tell you what great pleasure it gives me to write today on behalf of the physician staff as well as a member of the foundation board and perhaps most importantly as a friend of Berna and Myron Garron. This morning we announced an historic gift to Toronto East General Hospital. At $50 million dollars it is monumental. It is the second largest gift to any hospital in Canadian history.
Our hospital will now be called the Michael Garron Hospital. We will also use the opportunity to create a larger Toronto East Health Network that will tie all of this institution’s partners across the city and provide a vehicle for further growth.
The Garrons in so many ways define the best of what I think makes being a good citizen. They embody what we all hope to be. Having built their success in this amazing and generous country, their long-standing commitment to give back, in order to support and enhance our most important and valued public institutions is extraordinary. In our rapidly changing, resource challenged healthcare environment, Canadians still expect and deserve the best evidence-based care. Without the collective philanthropic spirit of all of us this would not be possible. In 2010 we combined to give 2.1 billion dollars to various institutions.
A quick look through the recent past and one realizes that the Garrons have supported many of Canada’s leading healthcare institutions. Over the last five years alone, in addition to today, they have given away $30 million to Sick Kids, $10 million to Princess Margaret Hospital and $10 million to IWK in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Clearly they care very deeply about the country they live in. That the Garrons now recognize our great hospital with this singularly unprecedented gift is personally very gratifying to me. Over the last three years as I have come to know the Garrons, they have come to know and believe in TEGH and have expressed that support with a series of progressively larger gifts. It is very fitting that we should celebrate a gift of this magnitude by renaming the hospital in honour of Michael Garron.
Myron Garron grew up in Westport Nova Scotia, a small fishing village off the Fundy coast. If you look on a map it is quite remote, one of literally hundreds of unique and tightly-knit communities across this country. His ultimate success was built on that foundation, long a tradition in the Maritimes, of local community and hard work. My wife’s entire family has roots in the Maritimes. My kids have spent every summer on Prince Edward Island. I understand this ethos well. As many other Maritimers have done over the years, Myron came to Toronto many years ago to pursue a career. While here, he met Berna while working at the Bank of Nova Scotia and started a family. Michael, their eldest, was born at TEGH.
At the age of six, Michael was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma, a rare form of cancer that ultimately claimed his life in 1975 at the age of 13. Michael’s story is both intensely heartbreaking and ultimately inspirational. Before he died his parents made a promise that he would never be forgotten. That promise has entirely informed their history of giving. Today represents the ultimate fulfillment of that pledge. Michael Garron, like so many others, a child of the Toronto East community, finally came back home today. His legacy will ultimately be borne out in the great things that this institution will do for many years to come. It will be defined by excellence, compassion, courage and integrity. It will lead by example and with a mandate of inclusivity. In essence we will build on the very things that have brought us from 1929 to this remarkable day.
Watching the reaction of Berna and Myron to the unveiling of the new banner was very emotional for myself and the entire hospital community. Myron spoke with great pride today about his family, his son and their commitment to the Michael Garron Hospital.
This hospital has occupied a unique place in our healthcare system, serving both the needs of this community as well leading on a provincial and national scale. This has very much been the order of business for 86 years.
To borrow a little from our CEO Sarah Downey, today’s extraordinary gift essentially provides a key that opens the door to a whole new adventure. As our healthcare system evolves into the 21st century, this gift will ensure that we have access to leading-edge medical technology in order to provide the best care for our patients. The creation of two research chairs will also provide a platform from which we will be able to innovate and lead. For this we are eternally grateful to the Garrons
I will close on a personal note. I have been a proud member of the surgical staff at Toronto East General Hospital over the last 20 years. We have accomplished many things and have several well-respected and talented departments. We are an integral part of the University of Toronto. As I look ahead I will be proud to continue to be a member of the medical staff at the new Michael Garron Hospital. I hope to be able to do so for many years to come.
Make sure you continue to follow the jewel at 825 Coxwell, as it heads into a bright future as the Michael Garron Hospital. Special things happen here. It will always make you proud.
Thank you Berna and Myron for sharing the memory of your son with all of us.
To watch the full news conference of the announcement, please view it here.
By Mitze Mourinho, President, TEGH Foundation
As you’re all aware by now, the incredible events of yesterday’s $50M donation from the Garron family will forever be remembered as a watershed moment in the history of this hospital.
The Garron’s gift – the largest ever given to a Canadian community hospital – is not only unprecedented, but transformative. Read more about the announcement here.
But the road to yesterday’s announcement began many years ago.
It started with a young boy named Michael.
Michael was born in our hospital in 1962. Like most kids, he was a curious, healthy little boy who loved life.
Then, every parent’s nightmare: at age six, Michael was diagnosed with a rare soft tissue cancer. To stop the spread of the disease, his middle finger and later his right arm, below the elbow, was amputated. He spent much of his youth in and out of hospitals.
Eventually, an inoperable tumour was found behind his heart.
His experience living with cancer and on the brink of death many times over, made him wise beyond his tender years. And he took a philosophical view of life and death. In fact, he was once quoted as saying:
“I’m talking about my living. I’m never going to talk to you about dying. I’m just going to live as long as I can and do as much as I can. It’s stupid to think about dying because then you can’t do anything while you’re living.”
In the end, cancer took him at age 13 – another young life of promise snuffed out too soon.
Before he died, he worried about his legacy. He told his mom, Berna. He worried about being forgotten.
Berna made her son a promise: You will not be forgotten.
Over the years, the Garrons have given generously across the country in Michael Garron’s name. In fact, they’ve donated to our hospital in the past including funds to support the purchase of the Da Vinci Surgical Systems Robot.
The Garrons chose to give to us because they believe in the exemplary work we do and how we do things. And they’ve given us Michael’s name as our new name. For the Garron’s, Toronto East General Hospital is a continued source of pride for them. For us, we can use Michael’s name as both a symbol of hope and pride.
Moving forward, we can dream big – dream about how we can continue to bring innovation to the bedside and continue our track record of providing high-quality care.
Now, these dreams can become a reality.
Yesterday’s $50M gift is a promise kept from a mother to her son. And it is a turning point in our history.
Today, our hospital’s future is secure. We can dream even bigger than we have before. And it’s hoped that the Garron gift will encourage even larger donors to invest in us too.
Our time has come.
If you missed the announcement, please watch!
By Sarah Downey, President & CEO
In the history of this hospital, today’s announcement of a $50M gift from the Garron family is a game changer.
As the single largest donation to a community hospital in Canada, this investment will transform health care in East Toronto, impacting the health of our community for generations to come.
This unprecedented donation is an investment to the community from Myron and Berna Garron in memory of their late son, Michael. Tragically, he died at the tender age of 13 from cancer. And to recognize their incredible generosity, we’re becoming the Michael Garron Hospital in the newly formed Toronto East Health Network.
The idea of a “network” speaks to the way we’re already doing things.
We have a strong history of providing exemplary care inside and outside our hospital walls, working with our community partners to care for some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people in Toronto.
We’re more than just a hospital.
And today’s gift doesn’t change who we are.
In fact, it makes us stronger.
It secures our future and allows us to dream bigger as we strive to of make our community the healthiest place to grow up and live in Canada.
It’s a long-term investment enabling us to fund new state-of-the-art equipment and drive clinical innovation.
And this gift will do more than just put our hospital on the map: it will also attract the best and the brightest minds in health care – and the donors who can make a difference.
When our founding fathers and mothers first opened Toronto East General Hospital in 1929, they hoped that the fledgling hospital would fulfill the health care needs of the growing East York community.
Back then, there was a tremendous need for local health care.
Well, 86 years later, that need is even stronger.
Today’s announcement is the start of our conversation with you and our community. Transforming the way we deliver care is an all-hands-on-deck approach. We’ll need your guidance and feedback.
But today, let’s put those plans on hold for a moment, pause and celebrate this defining moment in our history.