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Groves Foundation Executive Director, Lori Arsenault talks with Elora Fergus Podcast

In this episode, host Ryan Joyce chats with Lori Arsenault, Groves Hospital Foundation Executive Director. They discuss exceeding the $20 million dollar goal, how that money is spent, Aug 9 hospital opening, local impacts and more.

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In this episode

  • They discuss Groves Foundation exceeding $20 million dollar goal

  • Where the money is allocated and why it's so important to exceed their goal.

  • Lori shares some of the state-of-the-art equipment

  • Hospital’s big opening day coming August 9

  • Local impacts, major milestones and what it all means for Centre Wellington

  • And more!

Listen to the full episode here:

Listen below to Elora Fergus Podcast Episode with Lori Arsenault


Audio Transcript with Lori Arsenault, Groves Hospital Foundation Executive Director

Lori Arsenault: Hi, I'm Lori Arsenault executive director at Groves hospital foundation, and you're listening to Elora Fergus podcast

Ryan Joyce: A very good day and welcome to the Elora Fergus podcast. My name is Ryan Joyce. Welcome to this episode with Lori Arsenault. She is the executive director of the Groves hospital foundation. In this episode, we discuss the Groves Foundation, exceeding its $20 million goal, great news, where this money is allocated and why it's so important. They exceeded their goal. Lori shares some of the state of the art equipment coming to the new Groves hospital. The big opening day on August 9th, local impacts major milestones and what it all means for Centre. Wellington all of a sudden more on this episode of Lori Arsenault don't forget to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. Let's jump in right here with Lori discussing, exceeding the $20 million goal. Thank you so much for spending your time. I'd love to start. I'd love to start right here with the big headline, because you have just announced that the Groves Foundation has surpassed the $20 million goal. So tell us about this big win.

Lori Arsenault: Yes. Well, thank you for the opportunity. Um, Ryan, first of all, and yes, we're very excited. We've just announced a in the Wellington advertiser that we have exceeded our $20 million goal. Uh, it's been an exciting five years and a lot of, um, you know, a lot of people have contributed to that over that time. Um, but yeah, it's truly, truly, it's really exciting. Um, Sobara Group and Tribute Communities gave a very generous donation of $500,000, uh, which is amazing. And that was sort of the, the amount that took us over the top. So we're actually over 20 million raised in total. So it's really, um, really exciting time for the foundation and for the community. Cause it's been such a collaborative effort by so many people.

Ryan Joyce: And I know the hospital, the development of the hospital has taken 10 years. Ish. How long has the fundraising initiative?

Lori Arsenault: Um, longer than that, actually. So initially there was a group, um, prior to my starting here, but in 2005 or 2004, a group of community members got together and started a fundraising campaign and it was pretty much entirely volunteer, uh, led at that time, the foundation was just getting off the ground at that point. So that group together raised $7 million. If you can believe it for the community at actually the total amount raised at the time was 15 million, but five of that was for them from the County of Wellington what, and that has since been used to purchase the land, do the land surveys, like all of that stuff. Uh, then there's always, you know, a little bit of, um, money that didn't come through in the end. Someone may have made a pledge and only paid partial. So at the end of the day, the foundation had $7 million, which was invested by the foundation in 2008 and, and is part, it isn't part of the 20 million. We actually have 27 million in total, uh, to go towards the new hospital.

Ryan Joyce: That's really incredible.

Lori Arsenault: Yeah. So it's been a long time.

Ryan Joyce: Yeah, absolutely. And a lot of effort on behalf of so many, so many people, in fact, I'm the president of the hospital had a really great quote that I read in the Wellington advertiser that I thought was so impactful. I wanted to share it. He said that everyone has a role. And I don't think there's a single individual who hasn't participated in some way fundraising for this new hospital. I thought, I just thought that was the most poignant quote cause he's right.

Lori Arsenault: It absolutely is true because prior to this capital campaign for 20 million, the community had rallied together. When they thought at that time, they thought they were redeveloping the current site. Right. Um, and then in 2008, the parameters changed and the ministry basically kind of pulled the plug on that project and said, we're going to try and build you a new hospital. So as Steve has said, and he said in the Wellington advertiser article, um, if that community effort hadn't happened in 2005 to 2008 and that 7 million raise, we may not have got approval to build a new hospital. It really was those early efforts that gave us the green light to go ahead and proceed with the new hospital. So then in about 2014, the capital campaign for 20 million was launched. I started in 2015. Um, and yeah, and it's went from there. So it's really been about the last five years that we've raised the 20 million, but the previous 7 million is still part of the new hospital funds that are being used.

Ryan Joyce: That's really incredible to hear. And it's just something that obviously has big impact for us and all of the health benefits. What is some of the local benefits out that some people might not even recognize that they see the fact that we've got a new hospital board or some of the broader benefits of this,

Lori Arsenault: Of, of having a new hospital? Um, well I think for sure, yes. Um, as you know, our population tends to be, um, a little bit older. So I think for that, having a brand new hospital and it's a growing community, uh, it will be able to grow with the community. There's a lot more space for, um, particularly emergency services, ambulatory care, digital imaging. So if you need to get, um, you know, uh, different tests done, you won't have, there won't be as big of a weight. Um, and we're agency, we can accommodate more people. Uh, currently the current emergency was built for about 10,000 people. And last year we had over 24,000 visits to emergency. So it was built, sorry for 10,000 visits per year. And we had over 24,000. So obviously it's a need. So the community is going to benefit greatly from that. And it's such a beautiful, welcoming space. I mean, the current Groves have, has served us well, but it is, uh, old and dated and a little dark and the rooms are a bit crowded. Um, this, you know, the rooms are spacious, there's lots of natural light. Uh, you know, all the rooms 80% are actually, um, private, so people have more privacy, um, and, uh, you know, for latest technology and things like that as well. So,

Ryan Joyce: And people can get a preview of it now. I mean, given the situation, but people can actually see inside the hospital now,

Lori Arsenault: There, there is a YouTube. Yeah. I think it was spilled in like early winter. So it looks a little different now because there's more equipment in there. Uh, but yes, there is a video on, on YouTube if they search that, I'm not sure of the exact address for that

Ryan Joyce: You can see right there and it's got a great little virtual tour and you can see they've cost the aerial footage as well. Really, really great.

Lori Arsenault: Yeah, it is. And, and of course with COVID, um, we may not be able to have a public opening as Steve said in the article. Um, but you know, we will, at some point do something to celebrate this momentous achievement for the community. And we had a foundation at the foundation with, would love to do something for our donors as well, some tours and stuff. I mean, there's been so many individuals, corporations, service clubs, um, and groups that have contributed to this and it's really been a community effort. So we can't thank them enough, but the generosity of the community is truly like overwhelming. For sure.

Ryan Joyce: Yeah. I, I wouldn't even ask you to begin to name a few groups because it would just be endless. There's just so many that would be responsible for making this happen, but I'm curious, you did touch on something that I was wondering about and that's the impact of, of COVID during all this we'll get right back to the conversation with Lori discussing the covert impacts to the hospital, but first Canada's day is coming up and a lot of people want to celebrate with the township this July 1st, however, also want to maintain all those safety precautions and social distancing. So how can you do that? Well, you can do it virtually on July 1st. The township of Centre Wellington has a live stream coming out of their YouTube page and also of course, connect to, which is where you can get all your up to date information about a virtual events and things happening locally.

That's going to take place July 1st from 7:00 PM 2:10 PM. I have a little insight with this because I was helping with Deb. Dalziel the tourism and destination coordinator who, if you haven't heard her episode, go back and listen to that. A Deb and I were working with several local artists, musicians, adventures, and community leaders to produce a 45 minutes of credible local content. That's built into this three hour live stream that features everything from interactive dance parties and trivia and cooking classes in our classes, and so much more that you can do with the family. So make sure to tune into that ad connect to And if you want a sneak peek and learn all about the virtual candidate events that the township is putting on, you'll find them in this episode, show notes. We filmed with Tony McManus, Scott and Carolyn Woods, the Fergus pipe band and myself, Peter Piper, George at Caesar, Kristin from big brothers and big sisters.

There's appearances from Deb Dalziel herself, and even a special message from mayor Kelly Linton. So make sure to tune into that July 1st 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM also want to mention the Elora community theater has gone virtual the first Sunday of every month. They will be hosting an online script reading of their upcoming shows and performances. These will all be held on zoom, so you can tune in there. I've got links for all of that in the show notes, their upcoming performance of Jane Eyre is on July 5th at 7:30 PM. So you can tune into that and be part of this audition process because they know are casting now. So go over to the show notes page for episode 11, with Lori Arsenault and let's jump right back in with Lori discussing the impacts of COVID.

Lori Arsenault: Well, yeah, certainly we were, we, we were very lucky that we've had, we're really just nearing the end of our campaign when COVID happened in the community have been so generous, but after with COVID, um, we actually have to foundation have been looking after all of the PPE donations and it's again, the community has come together. It's been so overwhelming with surgical mass hand sanitizer gowns, surgical caps for staff homemade masks. Uh, the list goes on and on. So it really is incredible the amount that we have received and, you know, luckily to date, we've been very fortunate this community that the COVID numbers remain low, but we certainly are well prepared and while stock for, for if there should be another outbreak. So, yeah, so that, that has been just amazing to see as well. And, and throughout that, we've still continued to receive donations as well. So not only to our COVID relief fund, but also too, our campaign as the big severity gift, uh, was the final thing that pushed us over. So, so people are still giving and, and being very generous.

Ryan Joyce: I hope you had a toast when that came through.

Lori Arsenault: Oh yes. For sure. We did. We had a toast, a virtual one, right,

Ryan Joyce: Right. Yes. Yeah, absolutely.

Lori Arsenault: For our board, we have a board of volunteers and, um, you know, they've been just a great support. And, and when this campaign started, there was a group of volunteers aren't we, they were called the campaign cabinet. It was, um, members of the community that really led the effort, um, and connected with different groups and individuals. So it really was, um, you know, a group effort of many people that contributed to the success.

Ryan Joyce: Yeah. And one of the things I will read in the article that surprised me was, um, I just wasn't aware of that ministry doesn't cover any of the equipment. So this was an eyeopening thing for me. So a lot of the money, or sorry, some of the money, tell us about how that all works and how it breaks down.

Lori Arsenault: Yeah. And it's not unusual Ryan cause lots of people didn't don't know that until I've worked in fundraising many years, but until I started at the foundation, I didn't know that fact that not all equipment was covered. So essentially there are a few exceptions, but generally speaking, um, all of the equipment in any hospital across Ontario, whether it's a new hospital or older hospital is funded through community donations. So it is not funded by the ministry. The ministry gives funding for the building itself and for our staff and, and operations. Right. But not for the equipment. So that's where the role of the foundation comes in and why the support from the community is so important. So although we have reached this 20 million and of that 10% was for the bricks and mortar for the hospital itself, we had to pay our local share it's called, which is 10%. The remainder is going to, um, towards equipment. And of course, now we have enough all the equipment we need for, to open the new hospital, but that needs going to continue as equipment gets older, as you know, the community grows. So,

Ryan Joyce: And what are some of the equipment that has been sick?

Lori Arsenault: Um, well some of the bigger items are the digital x-rays, there were three digital x-ray machines that were purchased or community donations. So, uh, those are three of the bigger ones, uh, things like echocardiograms, uh, even IB poles, chairs, like the patient chairs. Um, you know, when you go into the lobby and you sit on a chair, those have all been funded through the foundation and through donations. So it's really everything you see there. Uh, it's incredible. And then several years ago, the community gave, um, had a campaign for CT scanner and the digital mammography. So those both are moving with us to the new hospital as well.

Ryan Joyce: Yeah. And you had said earlier, you've been with Groves foundation since 2015. Are you a local resident or have you,

Lori Arsenault: Uh, no, I'm not. I, well, I lived in, I live in golf currently, still, and I've lived in golf though for over 20 years. Um, my background though, I did grow up in a small community, uh, Lindsay Ontario area yet, so on a farm, so I'm a farm girl at heart and that I really can relate to the community here in the, in the small town feel. And I love that about, uh Centre Wellington and it was certainly one of the things that appealed to me about this, this role. So yeah, so I definitely have a, have a connection to that.

Ryan Joyce: That's really great. And all the people have helped and want to continue to help in some people are maybe new and haven't been able to support or want to now, how can they do that?

Lori Arsenault: Um, well the easiest way now, because our office is closed to from copper, um, for the time being, it would be to go to our website, which is www Groves and there is a donate now button. Um, when you go to there, you'll have an option of whether you want it to give to the COVID fund, you can still give to the new Groves hospital or just to our general equipment fund, which would go towards ongoing equipment needs as, as we discussed. Yeah.

Ryan Joyce: That's really great. I am so excited. I am, I'm really thrilled. I think this is big bit, well, we all know how big and how important that is for the community. So thank you for,

Lori Arsenault: Yeah, it is. Well, thank you so much. And I'll just say a final thank you to, to everyone that was, um, made this a success, the volunteers, the individuals that gave, so generously the corporations, the service clubs, like the lions, the rotary, the Legion, the kinsmen, they've all been fantastic. Um, and to you, Ryan too, cause you did your magic show a few years ago and donated the proceeds to a Groves. So everything has added up to the 20 million. So thank you so much.

Ryan Joyce: Thanks so much for tuning into the Elora Fergus podcast. Make sure to check out the show, page and notes for all of the links mentioned in this episode, this is episode 11, visit Elora Fergus Don't forget to share that post with a friend, someone who you think might benefit from all of that information and knowledge and a I subscribe wherever you get podcasts. That would be super. I thank you so much. On next week's episode, I'll be talking with Jackie Ronaghan. She is the board chair of the Groves and Memorial community hospital board of directors. I'll leave you with a sneak peak. See you on the next episode,

Jackie Ranahan: Groves hospital has been around forever. As you know, it was actually started by Abraham Groves and the hospital was willed to the town of Fergus. It's basically, there's three of us that work really, really tightly together to make the hospital tick and to make healthcare in Centre Wellington tick. You couldn't expand beyond that, but if we're just thinking Groves specific, but there would be the Groves Memorial community hospital. There is the Groves foundation and then there is the Groves volunteer association. And those three entities work very, very well together in ensuring that our community gets top-notch, health care.

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