$250,000 gift supports new Surgical Centre
Bill Walker never expected his life would be touched by cancer. Nor did he think he would ever be a surgical patient at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton.
But in 2008, the self-described lawyer by trade, farmer by roots, and entrepreneur by nature, was facing both. Not long after doctors diagnosed him with prostate cancer, Walker underwent surgery as part of his fight against the disease.
It was during one of his hospital visits that Walker learned about the ongoing fundraising initiative for a new Surgical Centre at St. Joe’s, now under construction at the corner of St. Joseph’s Drive and James Street South.
Walker, a partner in Gowlings’ Hamilton office, says we all have a personal obligation to assist and help in our communities. And with this belief, he made a $250,000 gift to support the redevelopment project.
“Sometimes it can take a personal scare to get you into focus and concentrate the mind. I happened to be at St. Joe’s when this happened and thought it would be a good opportunity to make a contribution to the hospital’s new surgical centre. It is one way to say thank you for the great service and care I received by the staff and physicians,” he says.
Walker adds, “The healthcare system is often under fire. I probably wouldn’t have paid much attention to this until I got in there.”
Aware of the growing need for surgical care in the region, and the inadequacy of the hospital’s current facilities to meet that need, St. Joseph’s has been planning for this surgical redevelopment project since 2007.
Dr. Anthony Adili, Chief, Department of Surgery at St. Joe’s, says, “It’s our duty not only to provide exceptional care today, but to find out how we can improve and enhance the surgical care of tomorrow. We need to build new facilities that will enable us to offer surgeries that are less invasive, less painful, more successful, and easier to recover from.”
Construction is moving steadily on the new state-of-the-art, 106,187-square-foot surgical facility – two and one half times the space of the current surgical area – that will enable St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton to meet the growing and changing needs of the thousands of surgical patients it treats each year.
The new Surgical Centre will include a new Sterile Processing Department, 12 new operating rooms – some of the most technologically-advanced in North America – with capacity for 24 post anesthesia and 50 day surgery beds.
The total budget for the new surgical facilities, which includes a new diagnostic imaging centre that opened in 2008, is $91.3 million. St. Joseph’s Healthcare Foundation, with the help of generous community members, is looking to raise $25 million for the surgical facility, slated to open August 2011.
Given such an ambitious program, Walker is now on a mission to encourage others to financially support the project.
“This is more than giving back – it is about reaching out and setting an example. And for me, I have always wanted to do something that is socially redeeming and useful,” he says. “That means doing all I can to support St. Joe’s.”
Today, Walker enjoys spending his spare time farming two acres of vegetables that he donates to the Christmas Hamper program organized by the Hamilton-based Neighbour to Neighbour Centre.
“I see my avocational gardening as a metaphor. It doesn’t take a lot to get things started, but in short order it produces a surprising bounty that benefits the broader community. Maybe my donation can have the same effect.”
Story Update for Spring 2013:
St. Joe’s new surgical centre opened in the fall of 2011and early in 2012 we began using the world’s most advanced surgical robot: The da Vinci Si Surgical Robotic System. Our da Vinci system includes two consoles that can be used for training new surgeons or for collaborating on complex surgeries. Controlled by our surgeons, the robot helps us to offer a wide range of minimally-invasive surgical techniques. We have also been taking part in pioneering research with organizations like NASA.
St. Joe's performs more than 17,000 surgeries every year including 6,000 in our new Minor Procedures Area. This new unit has helped to reduce wait times for a variety of conditions including carpal tunnel releases, colonoscopies, lesion removals and biopsies.