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OSMH launches new campaign in hopes of receiving help from province

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The Orillia Soldiers' Memorial Hospital has launched a campaign called "Start Today. Serve Tomorrow."

The awareness campaign urges Ontario's government to include a capital planning grant to build a new acute care hospital in the 2023 spring budget.

OSMH officials say Orillia urgently needs a larger hospital designed and built to modern standards.

"We need to upgrade, we need to modernize our health care facility, we need to improve the health and well-being of our community," says Orillia Soldiers President and CEO Carmine Stumpo.

OSMH is the oldest hospital in the region, with parts of the hospital built over 100 years ago.

"There are critical care areas over 70 years old. We are supporting the care needs of newborns in buildings that were never created for this kind of care, and what we need is to move forward with those modernized upgraded standards," says Stumpo.

Over the decades, more patient beds were added. Still, officials say the outdated building needs to catch up with escalating patient demand, especially with many patients travelling from out of town.

"Staying with their children in hospital, sometimes when their babies are in a nursery, it would be nice for them to have more room for them to stay, and the new standard for NICU is to have standard single-family rooms…and we lack that," says OSMH pediatrician program medical director Dr. Sarah Barker.

According to the Ontario Hospital Association, OSMH had the highest occupancy rate of all medium and large hospitals in Ontario in 2021-2022. The hospital currently operates at 141% of its baseline-funded bed count, pushing the hospital well over the physical capacity of its current building.

Based on population projections, the hospital will need 102 additional beds by 2035.

Orillia's population has grown twice as fast as the rest of Ontario over the past five years and is expected to keep climbing by nearly 45% over the next 25 years.

A new acute care hospital will allow OSMH to provide timely care to more patients by increasing critical care resources, ICU beds and inpatient beds and providing more services to women and children.

The campaign is asking community members to take action by sending a letter to the Minister of Health and promoting the campaign on social media. 

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