Veterans Memorial Garden another St. Thomas success story

city_scope_logo-cmykThe ceremonial ground-breaking was held last month and now it is down to serious business at Veterans Memorial Garden, to be located on Moore Street, across from BX Tower.
The garden will incorporate the city’s war memorials in one downtown location. This would include the First World War soldier in front of St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital and the Second World War and Korean War memorial at Princess Avenue.
Standing on the site of the garden recently, Tony Bendel, representing Lord Elgin Branch 41, Royal Canadian Legion, described the layout.
The soldier will be moved to the north end of the garden while the Second World War and Korean War memorial will be in the centre and become “the focal point. And currently right now in Toronto there is a bronze statue being cast of an Afghan soldier and that will be at the far end (south end of the garden near Centre Street). They will be building a rock wall and that soldier will be sitting on that.”New pavement will be installed “embedded with maple leaves” to replace the existing path, advised Bendel.
Tony BendeljpgMost exciting, is the planting of three Vimy trees.
“The acorns from Vimy Ridge were brought over,” explained Bendel, “and grown in Toronto. Those will be brought down here to plant. So we will actually have trees from Vimy.”
The memorial garden will be the site of this year’s Remembrance Day service.
“That’s something we’ve needed,” noted Bendel. “The hospital has grown to the point where there is no room for us over there. We want to combine things at one home.”
The approximate cost is pegged at $250,000, with the committee seeking to contribute $100,000 of that sum through public fundraising.
“I have heard they have gone over that target,” said Bendel. “The community got together so much they actually raised funds well beyond what we need. What we’re trying to do now, there are so many improvements we want to add to make it right over the top. One improvement being talked about is bringing in another monument that honours pre-World War 1. Everyone from this area.”
The memorial garden is just one more sign of the revitalization of St. Thomas, suggested Bendel, as a crane towered nearby at the site of a large retirement home.
“There is a lot of work going on now. Look at the west end. Infrastructure is being pumped heavy. Building is going on everywhere. And for me this is especially important because of this year being Canada’s 150th birthday and the 100th anniversary of Vimy Ridge. And now we’re going to have a permanent memorial to honour these people.”
Adding to the emotion this November 11th.
“I know there will be some tears this year to see something like this,” agreed Bendel, who noted a dedication ceremony for the memorial garden will be held some time in October.

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Four years ago, St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital – along with others in the county – farmed out transcription of their medical records to an Ottawa-based firm Accentus – now owned by U.S. giant Nuance.
Four full-time and an equal number of part-time jobs were eliminated in May of that year.
Citing confidentiality, Cathy Fox, STEGH’s communications/public relations specialist at the time, would not disclose the annual cost of providing the transcription service through Accentus, but did say the hospital expects “a cost savings range of approximately $100,000 to $150,000 in 2013, with expected higher savings range in 2014 of approximately $200,000 to $250,000.”
While all of this was coming down, we talked with an individual who lost her job at a London hospital when it also out-sourced the service to Accentus.
“We’re in financial devastation,” was the reality of the situation for the woman who wished to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal.
With 12 years medical records experience in various capacities, the London transcriptionist had been an independent contractor for Accentus since November of 2012, when nearly 50 transcribing jobs were axed at two hospitals.
She works out of home, earns about $400 every two weeks and receives no benefits or sick time.
“My biggest thing is the quality of the work. We took great pride in our work when we worked at the hospital. The doctors really appreciated us. Now there are huge, blatant errors that come through in emails where we’re told ‘someone did this, don’t do it again.’”
Well, it seems life for these individuals has deteriorated further, if that is possible.
Bob Grant – not this individual’s real name – contacted City Scope raising concerns “that Nuance has now indeed started outsourcing our private Canadian health records to India, out of the hands of our hard-working, highly trained Canadian workers…not only hurting the Canadian economy, but also risking breaches in privacy without the Canadian public being made aware and PERHAPS even the hospitals and facilities themselves not being made aware that they are indeed doing it.
“There are proud Canadian transcription companies like Transmed, Expedite and Terra Nova who treat their Canadian employees good.  Transmed even hires them as employees and follows all Revenue Canada’s guidelines for taxes and holiday pay.  How are these American companies getting away with treating Canadians in this manner?  Their US MTs are NOT paid like this…they are employees.  Why are they treating Canadians like third-class citizens?”
We will be following this up and any of the former STEGH transcriptionists can contact this corner to confirm and add to the information provided by Bob Grant.
In the meantime, if you are concerned about the confidentiality of your medical records – and you should be – here is a link to the petition

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They are huge shoes to fill but a local woman is up to the task.
The County of Elgin’s long-serving CAO will retire in September of this year and replacing Mark McDonald involved scouring the country for the best possible candidate.
Well, that individual is right here in St. Thomas.
The county announced this week Julie Gonyou has accepted the CAO position and will come aboard Sept. 5. 
Julie GonyoujpgGonyou was formerly with the London Public Library where CEO Susanna Hubbard Krimmer praised her as “a huge asset,” who has given us “the benefit of her great project management skills in the Central Revitalization; ably represented LPL with our strategic alliances, such as the City of
London, and partners, such as CBC; and much more. Julie has brought passion and energy to our organization.”
Previously, Gonyou – born and raised on a Central Elgin farm, which her father still works – had been employed by the County of Middlesex in a senior management position.
“Julie has great academic credentials, which include two Masters degrees as well as an incredible energy and passion for county government and administration,” advised Elgin County Warden Grant Jones in a release.
“Her demonstrated innovation in leading numerous special projects and engagement of community stakeholders really impressed me. Her communication skills, social media savvy, and progressive thinking will be very helpful as we continue to effectively deliver important services throughout our county.”
In her letter of resignation, Gonyou admitted she will miss working with the team at London Public Library, but in the release from the county enthused, “I am thrilled and thankful for the trust that County Council has placed in me.  I look forward to working with Council and the outstanding senior management team at the County of Elgin as we continue to provide exceptional services to our residents.” 

A refurbishment of the city’s Animal Services Centre at 100 Burwell Road will be undertaken this summer and that will necessitate moving the facility to a temporary location just south of the current site. As such, the centre will be closed for one day tomorrow (Sunday, July 9).
The temporary facility will open for business on Monday, July 10.
The project includes an internal and external redesign of the centre to improve safety, animal care and public experience, according to the notice posted by the city.
Still with the centre, as we understand it,  the last time renovations were undertaken the chief building official at the time did not sign off on the work.
Why would that be the case?
We’ll go fishing for an answer.

Trail at Sauve AvenuejpgIn closing, a reminder the Angus McKenzie Trail between Lake Margaret Trail and Sauve Avenue is to be closed for reconstruction.  City staff anticipate the trail will reopen some time in August.

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