News

VanLondersele retires after 13 years at the helm

By Monte Sonnenberg, Simcoe Reformer

Linda VanLondersele, right, the long-serving executive director of the Delhi Community Health Centre, hands over the keys to the castle to her replacement – Brenda Elliot-Smith of London. Vanlondersele’s last day on the job is  next Friday (Sept. 29). MONTE SONNENBERG / SIMCOE REFORMER

Linda VanLondersele, right, the long-serving executive director of the Delhi Community Health Centre, hands over the keys to the castle to her replacement – Brenda Elliot-Smith of London. Vanlondersele’s last day on the job is next Friday (Sept. 29). MONTE SONNENBERG / SIMCOE REFORMER

DELHI, ON - 

There will be a changing of the guard next week at the Delhi Community Health Centre.

After 13 years in the hot seat, Linda VanLondersele takes her leave next Friday as the health centre’s executive director and manager of the centre’s Family Health Team.

Her replacement is Brenda Elliot-Smith of London, a health-care administrator with a background in social work and an interest in minor hockey.

“I’m going to take a year to relax, spend time with my grandchildren, and travel a bit,” VanLondersele said. “I’ll be available to consult if they need some history or back-up help.

“I don’t want to cry but I do want to thank the community for entrusting this facility to me for 13 years. It’s been a joy to work here. We have a great team of physicians. We’re very fortunate.”

The health centre has come a long way under VanLondersele’s leadership. There was only a handful of staff on site when she assumed the role in 2004.

Since then, there have been two multi-million dollar expansions. As well, VanLondersele’s mandate was extended to include health-care delivery at the Port Rowan Medical Centre.

Today, the Main Street clinic is headquarters for 10 doctors and a number of other health-care professionals.

The most recent expansion is nearing completion and will create room for three more physicians. Elliot-Smith will have to hit the ground running when she seizes the baton next Friday.

“We still have a waiting list of patients and we still have a need to recruit doctors,” VanLondersele said.

Elliot-Smith arrived for her first day of work Sept. 18. She’s grateful VanLondersele has arranged for a two-week transition. Elliot-Smith comes to the job with experience in geriatric and disability care. For 10 years she was a crisis counsellor for young offenders under lockup.

Elliot-Smith recently got married. She and her spouse intend to relocate closer to her work in Delhi.

The executive director acts as a liaison between the Ministry of Health & Long-Term Care and the medical professionals who work in Delhi.

There is also a financial management function involving the collection of rent and the payment of bills. The executive director reports to the health centre’s board of directors and is expected to have answers for their questions.

“I’d like to put down roots here and eventually retire in 15 to 20 years,” Elliot-Smith says. “There are incredible programs here, incredible doctors, and no problems with recruitment. This is an incredible facility to have in a rural area.”

Elliot-Smith is a long-serving coach with the London Devilettes hockey league. She will coach the Devillettes’ midget-intermediate house league team for at least one more season.

MSonnenberg@postmedia.com