In 2022, years of planning by Brant Community Healthcare System (BCHS) officials to construct a new patient tower to support the hospital transformation that began with opening of D-Wing in 2003 was at a standstill.
“Our master plan conclusively indicates the Brantford General Hospital requires a significant increase in the number of inpatient beds and a modern infrastructure to support the work of our physicians and staff to meet the growing needs of our community,” Alena Lukich, chief strategy, quality , risk, and communications officer, said.
“We adhered to the Ontario Ministry of Health procedure to obtain government approval to advance to Stage 1, which cost $3 million.”
The redevelopment plan was created by hospital officials and members of the community, and was endorsed by local mayors, chiefs, current and former politicians.
The hospital administration recognized the urgency of a decision to proceed from the government. Community members have always been strong hospital supporters, so the decision was made that their collective voices could help.
“We developed a government relations campaign called ‘This Is Our Time to Build a Better BCHS’”, Lukich said. “We set out to educate the public about the dire need to build a new and modern patient facility and we were still waiting for the province’s approval.”
To gain the participation of the public, local media outlets were engaged to spread the word. A video and social media encouraged citizens to join a letter-writing campaign to the provincial government.
“Essentially, we needed everyone to know that we have outgrown our hospital and the time is now to transform our local healthcare system,” Lukich said. “We were asking our community to join their voices with ours so that the call to action to move to the next stage of hospital redevelopment could not be ignored.”
‘This Is Our Time to Build a Better BCHS’ launched on March 1, 2022. And it worked.
Within the first week, thousands of signatures were added to the petition. Over a hundred letters of support were sent to the prime and minister of health. Brantford Mayor Kevin Davis, Brant County Mayor David Bailey, MPP Will Bouma, and MP Larry Brock publicly expressed their support and shared the social media content of the campaign.
“Our social media content earned over 40,000 views in the first week,” Lukich said.
A week later, the hospital administration knew the plan was working. They were notified that the premier and minister of health were coming to the hospital with great news: permission and the necessary funds to proceed to Stage 1 of redevelopment of the new hospital.
Progress continues since the Phase 1 approval announcement. The latest updates can be viewed at www.reimaginebchs.ca.
“There is absolutely no doubt that the voice of our community made the difference,” Lukich said.
‘This Is Our Time to Build a Better BCHS’ caught the attention of the Canadian Public Relations Society who awarded the Brant Community Healthcare System the Pinnacle Award for a government communications campaign.
The entire community spoke up and we are now working with the province to design a hospital that will serve residents well into our future.
Hospital Insider is written by Gary Chalk who assists with communications for the Brant Community Healthcare System.