New mega ‘Geggie Gatineau Memorial Hospital’
A country doctor, Dr. Harold Geggie, founder of the first hospital in Wakefield in 1951, served for 55 years and was followed by his three sons: doctors Hans, David and Stuart. Until his death in 1966, Dr. Geggie dreamt of expanding his 30-bed hospital to a 50-bed facility.
What a dream! And now, the possibility of a far more grandiose hospital expansion to serve all West Quebec residents is at our doorstep. Such an infrastructure would meet our modern regional medical needs, would bring countless employment and economic opportunities that would revitalize our region from Gatineau to Maniwaki and beyond. Common sense, good economic planning and a sense of vision are needed to look at possibilities and benefits — not only challenges.
Considering the past location of all hospitals of the region, a site in the vicinity of Farm Point would be centrally located and an ideal strategic location to serve the populations, with transportation access via Hwy 5 and all converging routes. Add a few bussing schedules or perhaps a commuter train, which would improve our environmental footprint. Such a location would facilitate the recruitment challenges of staff due to the proximity of nature, sports and cultural attractions. There would be subsequent economic benefits from increased residential population, as seen these recent years and as demonstrated by the spiraling interest in 'semi-country living' during this pandemic. The city has expanded radically north and will no doubt continue.
The need for this mega hospital is a crucial and pressing reality. We do not want to lose any of the four present hospitals due to this addition. However, if this new hospital was located in close proximity to Wakefield, this area would maintain the unquestionably needed hospital services and our existing hospital building could then be transformed into a much needed seniors' care complex. And no other regional hospital would be threatened.
There is much available land, potential for good road and transportation access planning, excellent location to entice all staffing needs and economic revitalization of the West Quebec region. Will Dr. Geggie's expansion dream be allowed and encouraged to continue to grow and serve?
Collette Canavan lives in Denholm, Quebec.