Lazaridis gift to hospitals in Waterloo Region, Grey and Bruce counties supports innovative health system response to COVID-19

An $8.5 million gift from the Mike and Ophelia Lazaridis Family Foundation has had a profound impact on the ability of Cambridge Memorial, Grand River, St. Mary’s General hospitals and the South Bruce Grey Health Centre (SBGHC) to respond quickly and effectively to the current COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, their leaders know it has greatly improved their ability to respond to future emergencies in Waterloo Region and Grey and Bruce counties.

When asked about what moved them to support these particular hospitals, Mike Lazaridis, Co-Founder of Quantum Valley Investment Fund in Waterloo replies, “Ophelia and I have a personal connection to these communities and they are important to us. We’re pleased to have this opportunity to enable, and to witness, the passion and innovative spirit of the staff and physicians at these hospitals.  I am also so proud of the entrepreneurs in the Region of Waterloo and how they have stepped forward and worked with our hospitals to create new supply chains and solutions to keep patients and providers safe.”

“We didn’t even have to ask,” said Ron Gagnon, President and CEO of Grand River Hospital in Kitchener regarding the gift. “Before any of our communities had experienced their first confirmed cases of COVID-19, Mike Lazaridis was in contact with us. He was keenly aware of the health care system challenges that were about to unfold. It was immediately clear that not only did he hope to help with immediate needs but also to set us up for success in the future.”  Gagnon added, “This gift allowed us to move quickly to implement the plans we had been preparing and act proactively.”

All four hospitals have had to expand their capacity to take on unprecedented numbers of patients and do so in a way that kept their staff and physicians safe.  “Knowing we had the additional financial support at the outset allowed our teams to think in a less constrained way,” said Lee Fairclough, President of St. Mary’s Hospital in Kitchener. “When planning for additional space for very sick patients at all of our hospitals we needed to think big.  Having this financial support allowed us to move our planning forward and acquire the necessary equipment including beds, ventilators, laboratory testing equipment and personal protection equipment (PPE) for our physicians and staff.”

The work in Grey Bruce, where SBGHC has four sites, including the Kincardine site, poses a unique challenge. “We have expanded our capacity across all of our sites with the support we’ve received from the Mike and Ophelia Lazaridis Family Foundation,” said Michael Barrett, President and CEO of SBGHC. “We are also grateful for the doors Mike has opened for us and the opportunity to work more closely with the innovation sector and hospitals in the Region of Waterloo.” 

From their pharmacy teams developing new and safer approaches to medication preparation in order to reduce the need for scarce N95 masks, to using newly developed software to manage the screening of staff at their doors, to working with local companies to develop new supply chains for PPE, the urgency of a COVID-19 response has pushed these hospitals to try new approaches to everyday and emerging challenges.  “Taking risks isn’t something often associated with hospitals,” said Patrick Gaskin, President and CEO of Cambridge Memorial Hospital, “ the Lazaridis family’s gift and Mike’s encouragement and connections opened up the opportunity to try new and innovative approaches to solving problems. Our communities will benefit from what we’ve been able to do long after the COVID-19 pandemic ends.”

“The Lazaridis’ have provided much more than a financial gift,” said Gagnon on behalf of all four hospital leaders. ”Mike has helped to open doors to contacts and supply chains around the world, created bridges to the tech and innovation sector and has freely provided his wealth of insight and experience.  As a result, work and patient care are safer in these unprecedented times.”

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For more information, please contact:

Cambridge Memorial Hospital

Stephan Beckhoff [email protected] 519.621.2333 ext. 2427    
Grand River Hospital

Cheryl Evans [email protected] 226.749.0689

Aubrey Walters [email protected] 519.577.0511  
St. Mary’s General Hospital

Anne Kelly [email protected] 519.749.6578 ext. 1501  

Arianna Ongaro [email protected] 519.749.6578 ext. 6412  
South Bruce Grey Health Centre

Meghan Legge [email protected] (519) 370-2400 ext. 2281  

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