Introducing the Michael Garron Hospital
I cannot begin to tell you what great pleasure it gives me to write today on behalf of the physician staff as well as a member of the foundation board and perhaps most importantly as a friend of Berna and Myron Garron. This morning we announced an historic gift to Toronto East General Hospital. At $50 million dollars it is monumental. It is the second largest gift to any hospital in Canadian history.
Our hospital will now be called the Michael Garron Hospital. We will also use the opportunity to create a larger Toronto East Health Network that will tie all of this institution's partners across the city and provide a vehicle for further growth.
The Garrons in so many ways define the best of what I think makes being a good citizen. They embody what we all hope to be. Having built their success in this amazing and generous country, their long-standing commitment to give back, in order to support and enhance our most important and valued public institutions is extraordinary. In our rapidly changing, resource challenged healthcare environment, Canadians still expect and deserve the best evidence-based care. Without the collective philanthropic spirit of all of us this would not be possible. In 2010 we combined to give 2.1 billion dollars to various institutions. A quick look through the recent past and one realizes that the Garrons have supported many of Canada's leading healthcare institutions. Over the last five years alone, in addition to today, they have given away $30million to Sick Kids, $10million to Princess Margaret Hospital and $10million to IWK in Halifax, Nova Scotia . Clearly they care very deeply about the country they live in. That the Garrons now recognize our great hospital with this singularly unprecedented gift is personally very gratifying to me. Over the last three years as I have come to know the Garrons, they have come to know and believe in TEGH and have expressed that support with a series of progressively larger gifts. It is very fitting that we should celebrate a gift of this magnitude by renaming the hospital in honour of Michael Garron
Myron Garron grew up in Westport Nova Scotia, a small fishing village off the Fundy coast. If you look on a map it is quite remote, one of literally hundreds of unique and tightly-knit communities across this country. His ultimate success was built on that foundation, long a tradition in the Maritimes, of local community and hard work. My wife’s entire family has roots in the Maritimes. My kids have spent every summer on Prince Edward Island. I understand this ethos well. As many other Maritimers have done over the years, Myron came to Toronto many years ago to pursue a career. While here, he met Berna while working at the Bank of Nova Scotia and started a family. Michael, their eldest, was born at TEGH. At the age of six, Michael was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma, a rare form of cancer that ultimately claimed his life in 1975 at the age of 13. Michael's story is both intensely heartbreaking and ultimately inspirational. Before he died his parents made a promise that he would never be forgotten. That promise has entirely informed their history of giving. Today represents the ultimate fulfillment of that pledge. Michael Garron, like so many others, a child of the Toronto East community, finally came back home today. His legacy will ultimately be borne out in the great things that this institution will do for many years to come. It will be defined by excellence, compassion, courage and integrity. It will lead by example and with a mandate of inclusivity. In essence we will build on the very things that have brought us from 1929 to this remarkable day.
Watching the reaction of Berna and Myron to the unveiling of the new banner was very emotional for myself and the entire hospital community. Myron spoke with great pride today about his family, his son and their commitment to the Michael Garron Hospital. A video of the full press conference can be seen here
This hospital has occupied a unique place in our healthcare system, serving both the needs of this community as well leading on a provincial and national scale. This has very much been the order of business for 86 years. This key opened the doors in 1929:
To borrow a little from our CEO Sarah Downey, today’s extraordinary gift essentially provides a key that opens the door to a whole new adventure. As our healthcare system evolves into the 21st century, this gift will ensure that we have access to leading-edge medical technology in order to provide the best care for our patients. The creation of two research chairs will also provide a platform from which we will be able to innovate and lead . For this we are eternally grateful to the Garrons
I will close on a personal note. I have been a proud member of the surgical staff at Toronto East General Hospital over the last 20 years. We have accomplished many things and have several well-respected and talented departments. We are an integral part of the University of Toronto. As I look ahead I will be proud to continue to be a member of the medical staff at the new Michael Garron Hospital. I hope to be able to do so for many years to come.
I am additionally thankful that today's announcement fell after the end of Movember!
Make sure you continue to follow the jewel at 825 Coxwell, as it heads into a bright future as the Michael Garron Hospital. Special things happen here. It will always make you proud
Thank you Berna and Myron for sharing the memory of your son with all of us.