New director at Delhi med centre

Verspeeten family donates another $200G

Christmas came early to the Delhi Community Health Centre on Friday. Supporter Archie Verspeeten came through with another huge donation -- $200,000 -- toward the health centre’s $3.3 million expansion. On hand for the occasion were, from left, Dale Corner, past chair of the health centre’s board of directors, Archie Verspeeten of Delhi, health centre fundraising co-ordinator Karina Coelho, Mark Verspeeten of Tillsonburg, and Robin Mackie, the health centre’s recently installed executive director.

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DELHI – The new executive director of the Delhi Community Health Centre said administrators in the health-care field will have to be cost-conscious like never before in the months and years ahead.

Recent consultant reports coupled with news that Ontario’s annual operating deficit is in the range of $15 billion tell Robin Mackie that hospitals, clinics and health-care centres will have to do more with less.

“We know big changes are coming,” Mackie said Friday. “Anyone who doesn’t believe that isn’t setting themselves up for success.

“If you want to survive in the health-care sector in Ontario, you have to operate as a business. When you speak to the money people, you have to be able to put forward the business case for what you do. We want to be sustainable. We know hard times are coming. Everyone is going to be touched by this.”

Former executive director Bobby Jo Smith has accepted a position in the health-care field elsewhere. She served in Delhi for 13 months. Mackie’s first day on the job was Dec. 6.

Mackie is a native of Flamborough who has lived in Norfolk for many years. A registered nurse by training, Mackie later earned a health-care administration degree at Ryerson University in Toronto. Mackie has worked in health care for 28 years.

Mackie brings a wide range of experience to the position. She has worked in a doctor’s office, in a hospital setting, and on the home-care front. Her most recent posting was with the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care.

With Ontario’s population aging, Mackie will keep the focus in Delhi on preventive medicine and the promotion of wellness.

The goal is to keep seniors in their homes as long as possible. Fostering a community where seniors can remain in their homes well into their 80s will be one of Mackie’s benchmarks for success.

More than 40 applied for the position in Delhi. Dale Corner, past chair of the health centre’s board of directors, said Mackie’s enthusiasm and extensive experience distinguished her from the pack.

“And she’s extremely personable,” Corner added. “She will easily connect with staff, patients and the community.”

Mackie saw first-hand this week how generous that community can be. The centre’s board of directors recently completed a $3.3 million expansion of the facility, which is located at the north end of Main Street.

The expansion is called the Archie and Irene Verspeeten Family Wing in recognition of the fact that the Verspeeten family has donated $1.5 million toward the project.

That figure rose to $1.7 million Friday when Archie Verspeeten, 87, former owner of a major trucking firm, chipped in another $200,000.

Friday, Verspeeten said he backs the medical centre because his late wife Irene was a big booster. This latest donation brings to $400,000 the amount owing on the expansion. Verspeeten challenged the community to retire the debt in time for Christmas.

“It was my wife’s idea to give money to the centre when it started,” Verspeeten said. “We still need about $400,000. It would be nice if we got the outstanding $400,000 before Christmas.”

Delhi and surrounding area made plans for the medical centre nearly 20 years ago in response to a severe physician shortage.

With the Phase III construction of the Verspeeten Wing, the health-care centre has grown to 18,000 square feet. Fifty health-care professionals representing a wide range of disciplines work at the centre, including 10 doctors.