St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital CEO bowing out on a high note

No backroom wheeling and dealing this time around. When his five-year contract expires in October, St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital president and CEO Paul Collins is holding true to his word.
No contract extension – step aside and make way for a new hand at the helm.
“As I announced five years ago when we negotiated the contract, that would be my last and we’re sticking to the plan,” Collins insisted.
Not that he is necessarily bidding farewell to the world he loves.
In a lengthy conversation earlier this month, Collins spoke frankly of the future.
“I think I still have something to offer in health care. I have a great passion for this work. Who knows what opportunity will present itself. Leave the options open.”
And what words of wisdom will he pass on to the incoming CEO?
“The first thing I would say is they are very fortunate to come into a great community that has tremendous generosity. And they’ve shown it not to just this hospital, but to a lot of other agencies.

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St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital president and CEO Paul Collins.

“The second thing I would say is they are very fortunate to have the great people this organization has attracted. Wonderful people doing fabulous things. And getting recognized for it from patients and their fellow employees.
“Then I would say they are tremendously fortunate with the volunteer board we’ve got. We’ve got some tremendously skilled people . . . who have been very helpful to me.
“If you’ve got those people in place, whomever takes over is starting from way up here. Recognize what you’ve got.”
One observation from Collins is worth sharing.
“It wasn’t that long ago when people were worried about the future of the hospital, it’s very existence. Now you are seeing that the hospital is becoming a regional player. And I think that’s a good thing for the future of the hospital.”
It’s an adage in the world of sports and it applies equally in the case of Paul Collins.
When you leave, do so on a high note.

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And you thought the CEO of St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital had acutually retired

We alluded to this a month ago and now the future of the Mickleborough Building — current home of Ontario Works on Talbot St. — is gaining traction on a couple of fronts.
Redevelopment of the west end of Talbot St. begins Monday and will stretch into August. This stately structure, located at the corner of Mary and Talbot streets, dates back to the early 1900s. It stands just to the east of Phase 1 of the long-term project.

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Mickleborough Building on Talbot St. in St. Thomas.

In a recent conversation with city manager Wendell Graves, the fate of the Mickleborough Building was touched upon.
“At this time next year our lease expires at the Ontario Works building,” said Graves. “We’re continuing to work on that and hopefully in the next number of weeks we’ll see what the next steps are related to that facility. We’re also having dialogue with the Ontario Housing Corporation about incorporating that operation inside of Ontario Works and all these things will dovetail together in terms of where we are going to be heading.”
Now it should be noted the owner of this building is London developer Shmuel Farhi who, no doubt, will make an attractive offer to the city to keep it occupied.
We’ve heard rumblings the city may be considering moving the entire operation to a possible new home adjacent to the Timken Centre.
“We’re looking at various options,” confirmed Graves.
If Ontario Works moves, the city faces the prospect of another heritage building standing vacant.
“We have our eye on that,” Graves stressed.
Watch how this thorny issue plays out this year.

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As chairman of the board at Ascent, John Laverty was pressed into double duty as acting CEO upon the departure of Ron Osborne last fall.
In that short period of time he has done a remarkable transformation job which will return St. Thomas Energy to a profitable position — albeit in slimmed-down fashion based on the pending sale of Ascent Solutions to Spark Power Corp. of Oakville, Ont.

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Would that not serve Laverty well as a front-runner in the hunt for a permanent CEO?
“As chairman of the board, my thinking would be if this sale goes through, there will probably need to be a reorganization at the management level because you may not need as much management as you have right now,” Laverty told us earlier this month.
“Does the role of the CEO become almost redundant? We will put that thinking on the table. We will provide options to the shareholder (City of St. Thomas) in the event it does happen. The shareholder is the ultimate decision-maker.”
Looks like he has not only written himself out of the script, but is leaning to elimination of the post itself.

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GRAVES Wendell 04 CMYK

“When we structured the budget, we said this is a look beyond 2020. It’s about making a difference long term. I really think we’ve got the beginning of the footprint to do that.

City manager Wendell Graves on the philosophy embodied in the 2016 budget to allow council and staff to look beyond the near term.

City Scope appears Saturday in the St. Thomas Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be emailed to

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