Having a party

Mary MacKay
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Rededication celebration for the Souris Hospital to raise funds for foundation

Souris is having a party, and the guest of honour for this 25th birthday celebration is the current Souris Hospital.

The festivities get underway with a tree-planting ceremony today at 6:30 p.m., followed by an evening of entertainment at the Souris Show Hall.

“There’s a really strong emotional connection with members of the community for the hospital and that’s come out in some of the public meetings we’ve had,” says Alan MacPhee, who is a member of the Island Wide Hospital Access committee, which is sponsoring the 25th anniversary celebrations for the hospital.

“The hospital is central to the big events in peoples’ lives; when people are born, when people are recovering from surgery, when people are dying. That’s why people are so powerfully attached to their hospital,” he adds.

This 17-bed community hospital is the hub of health care in Eastern Kings County.

It serves a population base of about 7,500 and an average of about 15,000 tourists annually.

“I’d say we’re something like Cape Cod; we’re three to five times (the population) in the summertime compared to what we normally are,” says Susan Birt, chairwoman of the Island Wide Hospital Access committee, the goal of which is to see that health-care services are maintained in the province.

The history of hospitals in Souris dates back to 1876 with what was called a marine hospital.

“Marine hospitals at the time, back in the 1800s, looked after what they called the sick and the infirm from the seafaring vessels,” Birt says.

“(In historical documents online) it showed what the costs of operations were for the doctor’s fees and seaman’s such and such (needs). It was interesting because they didn’t use names (even then) for confidentiality. They used ‘Mariner’ (and a blank space for the sailor’s name) and what boat they were on. One of the things that stuck me was (the noted cost of) $6.32 for rum for the patients.”

Next in the local health institution line was Souris Hospital, which opened on Aug. 8, 1945.

“It really didn’t suit for modern times,” Birt says of the cramped bed wards.

“It was built in the days when you had one physician who practically worked 24 hours a day and it really wasn’t conducive to good quality care like we have today.”

That hospital served the community until the present day facility with a cutting edge design opened 25 years ago.

“It won an award for architectural excellence at one point,” MacPhee says.

Most of the health-care services delivered in Eastern Kings are located within Souris Hospital.

In addition to acute care, there are extended care services, including convalescent, respite and palliative care.

The hospital also provides ambulatory care, such as injections, sutures and casts, and other services including laboratory, X-ray, physiotherapy, pharmacy and hemodialysis service.

The lower level houses the Eastern Kings Health Center, physicians offices, home care, public health nursing, a diabetes program  and a private dental clinic.

An annex has been constructed onto the hospital, which houses the Community Mental Health and Addictions Services programs.

“When you live your whole life in the community, you want to pass away in that community and it’s much easier on your family in their own homes in their own community when those big events — good and bad — happen,” MacPhee says.

“So I guess we’ve noted that I think the hospital perhaps is the institution that has the strongest emotional connection to people in the community and that’s what we really want to celebrate and promote the awareness of.”

Fast facts

- Island Wide Hospital Access is hosting the Souris Hospital 25th anniversary rededication today.

- The event gets underway with a tree planting at 6:30 p.m., followed by cake and refreshments in the front lobby of the hospital.

- All former and present staff, as well as volunteers and the general public, are welcome to join in this special free event.

- The celebration continues at 7:30 p.m. with a special fundraising concert at the Souris Showhall. The evening of entertainment features Alan Buchanan, Ashley Condon and Brad Fremlin, presenting Storyline, the history and culture of P.E.I. through stories and song.

- Tickets are $25 with all funds raised going to the Souris Hospital Foundation. Tickets are available at the Evergreen Café, 95 Main St., Souris, Remedy's RX, 51 Main St., Souris, online at www.eventbrite.ca or by calling 687-3075.

Organizations: Souris Hospital, Island Wide Hospital Access, Eastern Kings Health Center Community Mental Health and Addictions Services

Geographic location: Eastern Kings County.It, Cape Cod, Kings

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