Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins blessed St. Joseph's Health Centre's new, four-story patient care wing Dec. 5. Photo by Michael Swan

St. Joe's brings back Our Lady of Mercy Hospital, sort of

  • December 7, 2011

TORONTO - Our Lady of Mercy is back in Toronto, gleaming and armed with the latest technology while making room for families, children and newborn babies.

St. Joseph's Health Centre blessed its new, four-story patient care wing Dec. 5. The new wing carries on the name of the old Our Lady of Mercy Hospital. The original Our Lady of Mercy merged with St. Joseph's in 1980 and finally closed in 1998.

The new $73-million, 130,000-square-foot wing adds a neonatal intensive care unit, a family birthing centre, a pediatric unit with six surgical day care beds and six medical day care beds, 92 more adult inpatient beds and a child and adolescent mental health unit which includes a full-time classroom.

St. Joseph's president and CEO Carolyn Baker called the new wing "21st-century care in a 21st-century building." But that doesn't just mean more technology, Baker said.

"Twenty-first century care really is high-touch care," she said.

While the new wing will have far more electric outlets and cabling for computer access everywhere, the most radical difference will be the extra space to allow families, friends and other caregivers to be with patients, said Baker.

A blessing and prayers by Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins brought out the hospital staff, who observed the archbishop sprinkle holy water around the new Our Lady of Mercy wing lobby from the floor above.

The new wing was also a sort of birthday present for the Sisters of St. Joseph who opened St. Joseph's Hospital 90 years ago, and have been delivering health care, education and social service in Toronto for 160 years.

The lobby features four 20-metre high stained glass windows saved from the old Our Lady Mercy Hospital chapel. The windows date from 1940.

A commemorative stone marking the dates of the old Our Lady of Mercy Hospital was unveiled by registered nurse Perla Mancao and Dr. Edward Gutman, two of the last Our Lady of Mercy staffers to leave the old building in 1998.

The new wing is still under construction but should be open for patients early in 2012.

"This is the healing ministry of Jesus," said Baker. "It's care with heart, care with compassion, care that respects the dignity of every person."

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