On September 25, The Salvation Army Toronto Grace Health Centre (TGHC) celebrated its official opening and rededication after three years of infrastructure renewal. The 60-year-old facility, which is located at 650 Church Street in downtown Toronto, underwent a multi-million dollar retrofit and renovation. The renewal included an update to the fire and life safety systems, heating and airconditioning, and other critical systems. The project was made possible through funding from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and The Salvation Army.

“I am thrilled that The Salvation Army Toronto Grace Health Centre is celebrating their return to their original location after three years of renovations and upgrades,” noted Dr. Eric Hoskins, minister of health and long-term care. “Our government’s infrastructure investment in The Salvation Army’s facility will help them maintain their excellent health-care services.”

Toronto Grace is a 119-bed hospital owned and operated by the Army. Once a maternity hospital, the Grace now provides complex and specialized care and services to individuals who require complex continuing care, rehabilitation and palliative care.

Col Lee Graves, Susan Fitzpatrick, Commissioner Susan McMillan and Mary Ellen Eberlin attend the reopening of the Toronto Grace Health Centre Col Lee Graves, Susan Fitzpatrick, Commissioner Susan McMillan and Mary Ellen Eberlin attend the reopening of the Toronto Grace Health Centre (Photo: Gerry Condotta)
“Today we celebrate the opening and re-dedication of The Salvation Army Toronto Grace Health Centre,” said Mary Ellen Eberlin, president and CEO. “The Toronto Grace is a valued and important contributor to the health-care system and The Salvation Army thanks the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and our many partners and donors for making this day a reality.”

Commissioner Susan McMillan, territorial commander, attended the plaque unveiling together with Colonel Lee Graves, chief secretary, and Major John Murray, territorial public relations and development secretary, who brought greetings from Toronto Mayor John Tory.

“Over the years,” noted Commissioner McMillan, “this place of healing has had many different rebirths and served a variety of health needs. But what has not changed is the compassionate manner in which the care has been provided.”

Also on hand to bring greetings was Susan Fitzpatrick, CEO, Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network. Glenn Foden, a major donor of the Barbara and Jack Foden Palliative Care Unit, spoke of the care his father received at TGHC. And Joanne Smith, a patient family member, paid tribute to the Grace team for the care of her son, Michael.

The major construction project, designed and completed by Montgomery Sisam Architects Inc. and Elite Construction Inc., also included internal structural changes, such as a new rehabilitation area, kitchen and lobby. Upgrades to patient washrooms and showers, expanded work areas for staff, and a modern main entrance were all designed to improve programs and services.

Photo of group touring Toronto Grace Health CentreSupporters of the TGHC visit the newly redesigned chapel (Photo: Gerry Condotta)
“The magnitude of the task The Salvation Army was presented with cannot be understated,” commented Lt-Colonel Neil Watt, chair of the TGHC board of trustees. “To secure an alternate facility that would support the Grace in continuing to provide quality health care, to relocate patients to an unfamiliar setting, then move patients back three years later presented huge challenges. All of our staff members are to be congratulated for their professionalism.”

The care and services provided facilitate patient flow through the healthcare system and enable individuals to return to their homes and communities. Spiritual care staff work closely with clergy of all religions to ensure spiritual support is available for patients.

Marilyn Rook was president and CEO of the Toronto Grace during the renovation and successfully helped “bring the Grace home.” She noted, “Our perseverance has made it possible to carry the TGHC forward into the future and continue the tradition of serving the health-care needs of the community around us. A patient’s family member recently shared with me that once the infrastructure renewal is completed, ‘the building will match our care.’ ”

The Grace is renowned for its standard of care and, in 2016, was accredited with a four-year exemplary standing by Accreditation Canada with an overall rating of 99.6 percent of total criteria met.

This recognition reflects the TGHC’s staff commitment to a personal touch. Christina, a nurse at the Grace, notes, “Things I’ve seen nurses do, like hold a patient’s hand and softly sing to them, is a testament to the care and compassion we provide.”

Patients such as Sharon agree: “Within a few weeks I began to improve, and I realized how dedicated the nurses and the health team were to helping me regain my independence.”

TGHC also works closely with families and loved ones to ensure that their concerns are taken into account during what is often a difficult time. Peter, the son of a patient, writes, “My sister, Susan, and I were amazed at the consistency of care that the nurses, health team and volunteers provided. We believe that the staff at the TGHC are angels with wings under their uniforms.”

With reports from the TGHC.

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