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A Proud Legacy
Southlake Regional Health Centre (formerly York County Hospital) has a rich and colourful history. It is filled with visionary men and women who, despite much adversity, have committed their time and energy to building a hospital strong enough to withstand the test of time and compassionate enough to find a place in the hearts of those they have served. As an organization that is still committed to providing excellence in all facets of care, let us look back and celebrate how far we have come.

The 1920s ... How it all began
Newmarket in the 1920s was the centre of commerce and industry for the surrounding area. It had a population of 4,000 (1921). About 20 doctors were practising in the town and within a 40-kilometre radius. These doctors delivered babies at home, and performed appendectomies, gall bladder removal, and other minor to medium-risk surgeries using ether and chloroform as anaesthetics. Flu and smallpox were common occurrences, blood transfusions were rare, and antibiotics were unheard of. Victims of emergencies and industrial accidents were taken to Toronto for treatment on the Metropolitan street railway. It was under these circumstances that York County Hospital was founded.

On June 20, the seed of York County Hospital (YCH) was sown when Dr. Lowell W. Dales converted his two-storey brick house on Main Street into a privately-run hospital with only six rooms and two nurses. "The Hutt House" as it was called had been purchased from Dr. William Hutt, who built it in 1896. Within six months of its opening, there were 12 beds, 5 nurses, 155 admissions, and 119 surgical operations. The average cost per day for each patient was $3.22.

Dr. Lowell W. Dales
On August 22, Dr. Dales' practice was certified and incorporated by the Ontario Government under the name of The York County Hospital Corporation. The Charter of Incorporation allowed for the "conduct of a general hospital" and a "training school for nurses."

The Hospital soon found itself financially strapped, and appeals to Newmarket and York County Councils for grants were ignored. Without financial support or provincial grants, it was an uphill battle to sustain the Hospital.

The turning point came on October 19 when Mayor Howard Cane's son was suddenly taken ill with acute appendicitis and required immediate treatment. Within a month of the incident, Mayor Cane had galvanized the support of the community behind the Hospital. A Board was formed to investigate the need for a public hospital.

Walter Eves 1924
On April 18, the Board under the chairmanship of Walter H. Eves bought Dr. Dales' practice for $1,000. YCH was now a public hospital! With the change in ownership came the much needed government support.

Between 1924 and 1926, more and more patients were being turned away, waiting lists were kept, and the urgency to find larger quarters became apparent to accommodate the increasing demands.

Several attempts to raise money failed. The threat of closure raised public indignation. Bonds were eventually issued, and the proceeds allowed the Board to purchase for the sum of $16,500 the ornate H. S. Cane home built in 1874 and the surrounding three acres of land located on the southeast corner of Huron Street (now Davis Drive) and Prospect Avenue. Renovations and additions to the Cane house occurred during the winter of 1926-1927, and the opening of the Hospital was slated for April 15, 1927.

However, on February 14, fire completely gutted the interior of the nearly renovated building. Construction of a brand new hospital began afresh from the foundation of the old house, and the official opening finally took place on October 10, 1927 with 25 beds.

In June, the Board purchased the adjoining Cane property for use as a nurses' residence. The nurses' school was affiliated with the Gouverneur Hospital in New York until 1930, and then with Women's College Hospital in Toronto. The school was discontinued in 1934 when the last graduation ceremony took place on June 25 of that year.

The 1930s and 1940s ... The Depression and the War Years
The Depression of the 1930s hit Newmarket hard. Money was scarce. While the poor were given free treatment, others paid doctors in kind (vegetables, sewing machine, etc.) for their service. The going rate for a private room in the Hospital was $5.00, and $1.50 for a public ward room.

Following the end of World War II, many new families moved to the area, which placed increased demands for service on the Hospital. Overcrowding soon resulted and the Board recognized the need for expansion.

During the years from 1924 to 1940, the contribution of the Hospital's Auxiliaries (originally known as the Ladies' Aid when it was formed in 1922) in fundraising deserve special mention. 1946

Funded by the Davis children in memory of their mother, the Margaret Johnson Davis Wing opened on January 1st. With 55 beds, the new wing included a labour and delivery suite and 15 bassinets; X-ray facilities with new equipment; an emergency room in the basement; and for the first time, a laboratory. In 1946, the staff was comprised of 13 nurses and a matron, 12 active medical staff, 10 courtesy medical staff, and a radiologist on a consultant basis. The rate for a private room was $7.00, and $4.50 for a public ward room.

The 1950s ... Expansion in step with population increase
Into the 1950s, doctors still continued to make house calls and minor procedures and obstetrics were performed by general practitioners. By 1952, the population of Newmarket had jumped to 8,000, and by the end of the decade to 16,000. Changes in the demographics of Newmarket with increased immigration from the British Isles and Europe and the effects of the post-war baby boom placed increasing demands on the Hospital.

The need for expansion was again urgent.

On March 2, the sod was turned for a new South Wing, an extension to the Davis Wing, that was officially opened on March 24, 1956 with 113 beds.

The rate for a private room had jumped to $15.00, and $9.50 for a public ward room.

The 1960s ... The administration undergoes radical changes.
During this time, the Ontario government introduced changes in health care provisions by paid insurance plans (OHIP), and this move opened up the use of hospital facilities on a broader scope. This initiative resulted in overcrowding at YCH, and the Board became closely involved in obtaining funds for the urgently needed expansion. 1962
In July, construction of a six-storey tower began at a cost of $3 million.

On March 25, the new tower was officially opened with 257 beds and 50 bassinets, and included a psychiatric unit, a surgical unit, a paediatric unit, and an intensive care unit. Other facilities included: an expanded recovery room, a

1964 West Tower special care nursery, an emergency room, X-ray facilities, a laboratory, cafeteria, and maintenance area.

The 1970s ... The need for even greater expansion
Rapid changes were taking place at YCH by the 1970s. Population estimates of Newmarket were 18,900 in 1971, and 24,800 in 1976. By 1972, admissions reached an all time high of 11,480. During this time, the Hospital experienced an acute nursing shortage and personnel had to be recruited from as far away as Australia, England, Ireland, Scotland, the Philippines, and the Caribbean. After a long and desperate struggle by the Board to secure funding, both regional and provincial grants were assured for the construction of a new building (the East Wing) in the fall of 1973 at a cost of $15 million.

The East Building 1975
In March, the new East Wing officially opened, increasing bed capacity from 257 to 420 beds.

In December, YCH inaugurated its continuing care unit, the first long-term care unit to provide for a patient's total needs.

The Whipper Watson Therapeutic pool-the only hospital-based pool in York Region - was completed in May 1976. This pool has proven to be particularly beneficial for exercises by orthopaedic, arthritic, and neurological in-patients and out-patients; and also for patients too weak or in pain to exercise effectively out of water.

YCH began its 50th year of service to the community-a remarkable record of growth of serving a population of 4,000 in 1922 to more than 30,000 in 1978. It was the largest single employer of Newmarket with a staff including 100 doctors with access to Hospital services, 350 to 400 nurses, 15 staff

Circa 1975 members working in rehabilitation, housekeeping staff of 70, 6 pharmacists, kitchen staff of 55, and 2 dieticians.

The York County Hospital Foundation was established to provide the Hospital with a source of funding through fundraising initiatives for the purchase of medical equipment, major capital projects, and special programs not covered by government programs.

The 1980s ... Growth under the shadow of restraint
By the late 1970s, with an ever growing population in Newmarket and the surrounding areas, YCH was faced with serious problems of cancelled surgeries, growing waiting lists for treatment, and pressures imposed by the government to practice restraint. In April 1980, a Ministry of Health-sponsored study revealed that massive expansion would be needed in order to keep up with the rapidly growing population. Major funding was necessary to increase the number of beds, and to introduce extensive outreach programs stressing prevention and community maintenance and a day hospital program for the disabled and chronically ill. However, the fiscal reality was otherwise-services at the Hospital had to be cut and beds closed. Confronted with serious problems of finding funds, YCH concentrated on ways to cut costs and/or services within allocated government funds. Strategic planning became departmentalized for a more comprehensive approach, and the Foundation was entrusted with fundraising to secure monies in areas where government funds were not available. YCH continued to grow under the shadow of restraint.

Palliative Care Program, the first of its kind in Ontario, was established in November.

YCH celebrated 60 years of service with 420 beds; 1,092 full- and part-time staff; and an estimated population of 100,000 in Newmarket and surrounding communities.

The 1990s ... Years of tremendous growth and major initiatives.
With its aging facility bursting at the seams, YCH could no longer cope with transfers from other neighbouring hospitals. It has consistently had to reduce beds because of provincial funding cutbacks (1995/96:311 beds; 1996/97:291 beds; 1997/98:258 beds). The OHIP rate for a public ward was $500/day. Routine births (4 days in hospital, delivery, and post-natal care) cost $2,450.00.

The Arthritis Program (TAP) was established to treat inflammatory diseases, osteoarthritis, juvenile inflammatory diseases, and fibromyalgia.

Community Cancer Clinic officially opened in February to provide chemotherapy treatment on an out-patient basis. In 1991, the clinic treated a total of approximately 100 patients. By 1995, the number had risen to 250 per month.

You're The Star Program 1993
"You're the Star" Program was established to help reduce fear in children (ages 3 to 12) awaiting surgery by allowing them and their parents to participate in an interactive "dress rehearsal" of their operation.

A record total of 2,083 babies were born.
YCH received a citation from the Canadian Physiotherapy Association, the Joint Policy and Planning Committee of the Ministry of Health, and the Ontario Hospital Association for its stroke rehabilitation program.

Daniel P. Carriere 1995
Under the leadership of Dan Carriere, President and CEO, a new vision statement was created to inspire staff, physicians, and volunteers to focus on and strive for excellence in the delivery of care to its patients and other customers. Endorsing a Vision for Excellence

In July, YCH received the Resource Utilization Award from ESI (leading provider of health care information management software) for instituting innovative procedures in the facility, setting new boundaries for standard practices, and effectively reducing the utilization of resources while maintaining an outstanding level of patient care.

Opening in June 1997, YCH becomes home to York Region's MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) in partnership with York Central and Markham-Stouffville Hospitals.

1998 – 1999 ... Years marked by groundbreaking developments
In January, YCH proposed a $2.2 million expansion and consolidation of all maternal child care services to be offered in separate units, located on one floor in the 1975 building. The new state-of-the-art facility opened in October of this year with a Special Care Nursery accommodating 12 isolettes, 12 private birthing rooms, a 15-bed maternity unit, and a 19-bed paediatric unit.

In April, YCH was designated as the Regional Level 2 Paediatric and Perinatal Centre for York Region by the Health Services Restructuring Commission. This appointment enabled the Hospital to accept women at 30 to 34 weeks of pregnancy and provide resuscitation and stabilization of newborns for unexpected emergencies, in addition to providing complete care to mothers and infants at low to moderate risk.

Providing Specialized Care
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and an Eating Disorder Program was created to provide education, assessment, and treatment to teens suffering from severe eating disorders (anorexia nervosa and bulimia).

YCH sponsored the Look Good...Feel Better workshops for women living with cancer with help from oncology nurses, cancer survivors, and volunteers from the Canadian Cancer Society.

YCH received funding from Ministry of Health to establish ACTT (Assertive Community Treatment Team) based in Georgina to provide continuous and comprehensive community based care to persons with persistent and severe mental illnesses.

Cardiac Cathetertization
Suite In a bold move, YCH showcased its $1.6 million demonstration cardiac catheterization lab on loan from GE Medical Systems Canada; no cardiac catheterizations had yet been performed.

In November, YCH began its first Diabetes Satellite Education program in Georgina-this represented a commitment to provide health care services close to home for residents of the town.

On December 4, YCH was chosen by the Ministry of Health as the site for a new Regional Cardiac Care Centre to provide angiograms, cardiac surgery, coronary angioplasty, pacemakers, and implantable defibrillator services to the residents of York Region, Simcoe County and south Muskoka Region.

Performing an Angiogram College Hospital whereby a perinatalogist from Women's College Hospital would visit YCH once a month to provide high-risk antenatal consultation and assessment.

YCH made local medical history in February with the first coronary angiogram performed in the cardiac catheterization laboratory. (500 angiogram cases were performed in fiscal year 1999-2000).

On May 4, the Ministry of Health approved funding of up to $64 million toward a massive construction project that within six years would transform YCH into the largest hospital in York Region. A groundbreaking ceremony was held on May 28, symbolizing the Hospital's deep commitment to immediately begin construction upon completion of the final planning phases and the selection of a qualified building contractor. (Note: The Honourable Tony Clement, Ontario Minister of Health and Long-Care, announced an additional $24.3 million towards the total project cost of $149 million at the

May 4th Announcement <photo>
l-r Tom McPherson, Chairman of the Board, Julia Munro, MPP Durham York, Frank Klees, MPP York MacKenzie, Dan Carriere, President, JoeTascona, MPP, Simcoe Centre official construction kick-off ceremonies held on November 13, 2001. In previous months, support also came from the Regional Municipality of York through its $34 million contribution, and the SRHC Foundation's commitment to raise $15 million).

November 13th Kick Off <photo>
Forefront: Dan Carriere, President, and Tony Clement, Minister of Health, Ministry of Health and Long Term Care
In November, an alliance was formed between SRHC and the Stevenson Memorial Hospital in Alliston. The focus of this unique relationship was to coordinate and share a number of clinical, administrative and support services and systems between the two hospitals in order to improve access to quality health care services for the residents of northern York Region and southern Simcoe County.

2000 – 2002 ... A new beginning into the 21st century!
Consistent with a theme that seems to weave its way throughout this hospital's history, Southlake Regional Health Centre has continued to grow and evolve. In the year 2000 and with several advanced programs designated to serve the residents of York, Simcoe and Muskoka regions, confusion between York County and neighbouring facilities became overwhelming. With a timely opportunity to create clear distinction and set a positive tone for an exciting future, the Hospital staff and community came together to select a new name for the organization.
The new millennium has also brought with it perhaps the largest and most exciting development in the Hospital's history to date, a $149 million expansion and renovation project that will positively impact each patient and family in this growing community. By investing in the bricks and mortar today,we're also investing in our futures and in a health care centre that will provide compassionate care for this community for years to come. In the words of one of our very own staff members, "It's not about building a bigger hospital, it's about BUILDING THE BEST hospital."

Celebrating a Southlake Tradition Heritage Doors Reopen to the Future Serving as an icon to Southlake’s rich history and most cherished traditions, the Hospital’s original 1927 doors and its surrounding brickwork have been relocated to the lobby of the east building.

Addressing guests who attended the December 20, 2005 event to officially reopen the Heritage Doors in their new location, Dan Carriere, President & CEO said, “Before Southlake began its redevelopment and expansion project, we made a commitment to preserve the doors and surrounding brickwork of the Hospital’s original 1927 building. We did this because we believe that where we have come from and what we have learned from past experience guides us in all that we do. At Southlake, tradition is used as a platform to allow us to move forward and expand while maintaining that personal touch. It allows us to grow, and to look for new ways to improve our patients’ experiences. Today marks the realization of that promise”.

Presenting Southlake with a heritage plaque to serve as a reminder of the Hospital’s important beginnings, Ron Marriott, Chair, Heritage Newmarket said, “As a heritage group, it is always a challenge to us to see older buildings disappear. Those that have significant history and architecture we do attempt to preserve. There are times when preservation of a building does not make sense. When that happens we try to accurately record its history and the part it played in the community and move into the future. That is exactly what has occurred here, however, the doors give us a link to the past and provide us with memories of what once was. What is important is that the building on Main Street and the building that once stood on this ground contributed to the health and well-being of the citizens of the area and that will never be forgotten. Now we move into the future with facilities that will provide outstanding health care—a continuation of the legacy that began many years ago."

The 1927 building’s original cornerstone and commemorative plaque have also been relocated to the east lobby. During the removal of the 1927 cornerstone, a time capsule was unearthed and its contents were on display at the December 20 event. Items found included April 1927 editions of the Newmarket Era and the Express Herald, and hand-written lists of York County Hospital’s 1927 Board of Directors and the names of federal, provincial and local government officials of the time.

The former site of the Hospital’s 1927, 1945 and 1956 buildings is currently under construction for a new six-storey parking garage, which will include a bridge that spans Davis Drive and connects to a new six storey Medical Art Building on the north-west corner of Davis Drive and Lundy’s Lane. The garage will also link directly with the main Hospital and Southlake’s new four-storey Regional Cancer Centre. Scheduled to open in 2008, the Centre will provide much needed cancer services, including radiation treatment, to the over one million residents of York Region and south Simcoe County.

At the special celebration event held on December 20, 2005, Dan Carriere, President & CEO was assisted by Tom Taylor, Mayor of Newmarket (left), Joe Dales, son of York County Hospital founder, Dr. Lowell Dales, and Ron Marriott, Chair of Heritage Newmarket (right) in the official reopening of the Heritage Doors in their new location.

Heritage Doors...Something to Think About
Author: Dr. Barry Nathanson, President
General Medical Staff, Southlake Regional Health Centre

I wonder how many hospital and medical staff members are familiar with Southlake’s tagline "Tradition is cherished; change is welcomed". And I wonder how many of us have taken the time to consider what this pithy little phrase really means, to us as an organization and to each of us as individuals. Personally, I've liked that little statement since I first heard it several years ago. It dovetails so gracefully with the well known quotation ascribed to Jonas Salk about the importance of parents giving their children "roots and wings", a piece of sage guidance that has governed my own fatherhood through easy and difficult times.

The old west wing entranceway, now erected in the new lobby, has brought this whole issue to the fore. The lion's share of my attention over these past three and a half years of my presidency has been focused on the future by the challenges of redevelopment, and on the present by the moment to moment struggles of such things as the Norwalk era, the SARS fiasco and the myriad other issues and challenges that fall under the purview of the Medical Staff President. As a consequence and by human nature itself, I have taken only very little time to focus on our past, our roots, where we as an organization come from. And I suspect that I've probably taken more time than most.

I would encourage all of you to at least once peruse the history page on our hospital website. You'll read about our hospital's origins in the 1920's as the private medical practice of Dr. Lowell W. Dales, and it's evolution to a public hospital driven by the eventual recognition of the need for more advanced care closer to home. Sound familiar? The rest of the synopsis makes for a lovely, quaint read. A few moments of easy reading have given great depth to my appreciation of what is otherwise merely an appealing architectural element, a simple door.

I will confess to having been peeking through the tarp regularly while the installation of the doorway was underway. However, I did so only in the wee hours of the mornings when I was on call; for some reason I didn't wish to appear too interested. And since the doorway has been revealed I have continued to steal only furtive glances, still trying to appear nonchalant. But it has certainly had my attention as personal memories have flooded back, resurrected by the sight, the sound and the touch of the door and its accouterments.

Many of you will recall what it was like to enter the hospital via the old west wing entrance not at all long ago. Back then the door made a very distinctive sound as it was opened; towards the end it took on the sound of a door that had been opened far too often. And then there was the even more characteristic sighing sound it made as it closed clumsily behind; it always sounded so relieved when it closed. Just as memorable was the sharp scent that lay beyond the entrance, the lingering odor, I thought, of stale time.

Truthfully, by the time it was laid to rest the west wing had become a place not fit for anyone or anything, let alone the administration and practise of medicine. But it hadn’t always been such. And whosoever cares to inquire will find that the west wing had a storied past full of progress and achievement. Those stories and those achievements are our history, our story. And that legacy of progress and achievement, represented by the old doorway, is the foundation of our new facility.”

Time Capsule To be opened on the Hospital's 125 Anniversary - June 20, 2047
Just two days after the hospital’s eighty-second anniversary, staff, physicians, volunteers, dignitaries and special guests came together to celebrate the official opening of Southlake’s new six-storey building . Part of the ceremony included the dedication of a time capsule by Mr. Joe Dales, son of hospital founder Dr. Lowell Dales.

“Historical accomplishments don’t happen by chance. They happen when dedicated people embrace an idea that inspires them to work together to make it a reality,” stated Mr. Dales. “ It is therefore my privilege, on behalf of my father Dr. Lowell Dales and my entire family, to dedicate this time capsule to the hundreds of staff, physicians and volunteers who have worked tirelessly to see this magnificent new building come to completion.”

The contents of the time capsule represent issues affecting our world and the hospital on June 22, 2004. It also includes an account of the people associated with Southlake, as well as information directly related to the planning and successful completion of the new six-storey building.

Contents of the time capsule include:
  • Reference Information relating to Southlake and Our People
  • List of the 2003/2004 Board of Directors - Southlake Regional Health Centre
  • List of Southlake Staff (effective June 22, 2004)
  • List of Physicians (effective June 22, 2004)
  • List of wage scales and benefits for Southlake employees
  • Most current copy of collective union agreements
  • List of the 2003/2004 Board of Directors – Auxiliary to Southlake Regional Health Centre
  • List of the 2003/2004 Board of Directors – Southlake Regional Health Centre Foundation
  • 2003/04 Annual Report – Southlake Regional Health Centre
  • Media
    • The Era Banner (June 24, 2004)
    • National Newspaper (June 22, 2004)
  • Photos taken on June 22, 2004
  • Copy of the July edition of Lifeline – Southlake’s internal newsletter
  • Construction Project Library of photos taken during the construction of the new six-storey building
  • List of capital equipment purchased for the new building Architectural Drawings of the new building
  • Colour schemes for the new building
  • Photo of Redevelopment Team
  • List of contractor, sub-contractors and trades involved in the project
  • Summary of the project’s overall costs
  • Other Aerial photograph of the Hospital campus on June 21, 2004
  • DVD of Southlake’s new corporate video – A New Day is Dawning at Southlake
  • SARS report and samples of protective clothing worn to protect against infection during the crisis
  • Southlake T-shirt
  • Copy of Dan Carriere’s identification badge
  • List and photo of babies born on June 22 at Southlake
  • Copy of the Hospital’s website
  • Nurture the Future Capital Campaign, Case for Support
  • Nurture the Future Campaign bulletin – December 2003
  • A copy of York Region’s “It’s All Here – Live, Learn, Work and Play” brochure

2004 – Time Capspule <photo>
To be opened on the Hospital's 125th Anniversary - June 20, 2047
( l to r) Joe Dales presents time capsule to Southlake's staff,
physician and volunteer representatives Dan Carriere, President & CEO;
Robin Tidd, Hospital Board Chair; Dr. Barry Nathanson, Medical Staff
President; Ann Spalding, Auxiliary President; and Kevin Murdoch,
Foundation Board Chair.

Robert Terence Carter : Newmarket - The Heart of York Region, Dundurn Press Ltd. and Elm Tree House Publishers, Newmarket.
York County Hospital: Fifty Years of Service 1922-1972, Era Special Issue.
York County Hospital, 50th Anniversary issue, August 1972.
Tidings: 60th Anniversary Issue, August 1982.
Tidings: Spring 1999.
Era Banner Special: June 25, 1995.
Era Banner Special: September 29, 1996.
Trewella, Ethel Wilson: History of the Town of Newmarket.
Dr. Crawford Rose: York County Hospital-A Story of Faith and Courage. April 1972.
Nicolson, Doris: Unpublished Notes and Recollections of York County Hospital.
Southlake Regional Health Centre
596 Davis Drive, Newmarket, Ontario   L3Y 2P9
Tel: 905-895-4521   |   TTY: 905-952-3062
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