Reflecting on 150 years of care

For the past year, we’ve been celebrating our 150th anniversary at Providence Care. In 1861, four religious women from Montreal arrived in Kingston to begin a new ministry to the elderly, the sick, the poor and the orphans in our region. Their growing community became known as the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul.

Around the same time, the first asylum was built in the area, and patients who had been housed in the basement of Kingston Penitentiary were moved to the new psychiatric hospital.

Providence Care traces its roots back to both of these stories, and today, our staff continue to meet the needs of many of the most vulnerable in our society. And as much has changed in the past 150 years, were are now in a period of change and transition as we look forward.

This month, we begin an intense process of planning our new Providence Care Hospital. The new building, when complete, will be home to our rehabilitation, palliative care, complex continuing care, specialized geriatrics and long-term mental health programs.

For the first time in our history, our hospital services will all be located in the same 270-bed facility.  This will make a positive difference, particularly to decrease the stigma that has for many years surrounded mental health care. Our staff and our organization is committed to making the new hospital a welcoming a place – for all patients, family members, staff and volunteers.

In addition to that very big change, we are beginning to talk about the future of Providence Manor, and possibilities for redevelopment of our long-term care home in the years ahead. New regulations in long-term care recognize the growing range of needs in the residents being admitted, and we are looking for innovative ways to support residents of differing ages and abilities in a homelike environment.

As well, many of our community programs are involved in initiatives to enhance and build on their services.  For example, Providence Care is working with the South East LHIN on a project to provide supportive housing for clients with acquired brain injuries in Napanee, and we are working with the our LHIN as an “early adopter” of the new Behavioural Support Services (BSS) project.  When fully implemented, BSS will support seniors and particularly long-term care residents in crisis situations.

There are significant pressures from the system, and significant needs in the areas where we are currently providing services.  We are working hard to be more accountable and transparent in how we do business, and to work with our health care partners to be more responsive in community and hospital services.

That is why it has been so important for us over the past year, to be reflecting on Providence Care’s 150 years of history.

Over and over, we have reminded ourselves of the story of the four Sisters, who arrived from Montreal and immediately began caring for the vulnerable – although they had very few resources and virtually no established network of support.  We also remind ourselves of the individuals who fought for – and won – better living conditions for mental health patients.

I know there are other similar stories across the country of how local organizations began.  As we start this new year, let’s remember our shared past – and go forward confident that we can continue to make a difference by what we do.  Happy New Year!