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London chosen as site of $108 million children’s hospital

LONDON, Ont. – The Shriners intend to build a $108-million orthopedic children’s hospital in London, Ont., more than double early estimates for the facility, according to a report in the London Free Press.

In April, it was announced that the London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) had been recommended by the Shriners’ board of directors as the future home of the Canadian Shriners Hospital for Children. Montreal, the current site, and Ottawa, were also contenders for the hospital.

LHSC president and chief executive officer Tony Dagnone said the hospital will lead to the creation of 100 new medical jobs for the city, including specialists and researchers.

However, the Shriner board’s choice must be still be ratified by two-thirds of the 1,200 voting delegates to the international fraternity’s convention in Baltimore, in July.

Dagnone and others said they expect a tough fight from Montreal, which has been home to the Shriners’ only Canadian hospital since 1925 and will be losing the facility.

Gene Bracewell, treasurer of the Shriners and head of the hospital selection committee, told the London Free Press that the board is fully behind the choice of London. “I am sure Montreal is disappointed and they are great people there, as is Ottawa, but we have to look at doing what is best for the kids in the future.

“They do fantastic work in Montreal, but the future is brighter in London for research, for robotics, telemedicine and everything.”

At the London press conference, a jubilant Dagnone said, “What a privilege to serve Canadian children. “We are delighted at the Shriners’ decision, and welcome the opportunity to build on the talent and skills of our healthcare professionals to provide the kind of exemplary paediatric orthopaedic care that Shriners are renowned for across North America.”

Dagnone was joined in his announcement by members of the LHSC Board of Directors and the London Bid Committee; London Mocha Shriner Imperial Potentate Grant Fotheringham; LHSC hospital and medical staff who supported the bid; Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco; and representatives from the University of Western Ontario and the London Health Sciences Foundation.

“This was a long and arduous decision for the Shriners to make,” acknowledged Dagnone. “But by speaking with one passionate voice as a community, we put forward a compelling case that maintained its momentum despite the challenges and setbacks of the past year.

“We were able to build confidence in our community and our people through the efforts of the LHSC Board of Directors, the City of London, the University of Western Ontario, LHSC’s Departments of Paediatrics and Orthopaedics, the Airport Authority, the many local business firms who supported our bid, and London’s Mocha Temple Shriners.”

Dagnone added, “I would like to extend special, personal thanks to our Premier, Dalton McGuinty, as well as the Honourable George Smitherman, Ministry of Health officials, and London MPPs for actively supporting our efforts, particularly the Honorable Chris Bentley. I must also thank the members of our local media, who passionately and persistently communicated our aspirations to be selected by the Shriners.”

LHSC Board Chair Jeff Low notes that, “With respect to our strategy of advancing the merits of our hospital, our university, and our community, we have been relentless over the past five years. While this announcement is a cause for celebration in our community, we must remain patient until the final decision to locate the Shriners Hospital for Children in London is ratified by the 1,400 North American Shriners delegates meeting in Baltimore in July.”

London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) is one of Canada’s largest acute-care teaching hospitals and is dedicated to excellence in patient care, teaching and research. LHSC has pioneered many national and international medical breakthroughs. Located in London, Ontario, LHSC has three sites – University Campus, Victoria Campus, and the South Street Site, along with two family medical centres and the London Regional Cancer Program. LHSC is the home of the Children’s Hospital of Western Ontario and CSTAR (Canadian Surgical Technologies & Advanced Robotics).

The research arm of LHSC is Lawson Health Research Institute, which is also partnered with London’s other teaching hospital, St. Joseph’s Health Care, London. LHSC is affiliated with The University of Western Ontario. Physicians and staff at LHSC number close to 8,000 and together they provide care for more than 600,000 patients each year.