What is being proposed?

Grand River Hospital and St. Mary’s General Hospital have agreed to begin the process of a voluntary merger. 

The proposed new organization would operate existing hospital sites and services, while continuing to move forward with our joint Building the Future of Care Together capital redevelopment project. 

The hospital boards independently voted in favour of creating a new, single hospital organization to care for our communities which would replace both current hospital organizations. This change has also been supported by the Board of Directors at St. Joseph’s Health System Corporation, of which St. Mary’s is a division. 

The hospitals will now undertake a due diligence process regarding the details of the planned, voluntary merger in consultation with the Ontario Ministry of Health. 

You previously said the two hospital organizations wouldn’t merge – why the change in direction?

We weren’t contemplating integration when we initially began working together in 2020 on our joint proposal to build a new hospital and modernize two existing sites. 

Our initial proposal was for Grand River and St. Mary’s to jointly operate the existing and new sites, while retaining their independence and separate governance structures. 

Through consultations with our hospital boards (including St. Joseph’s Health System Corporation of which St. Mary’s General Hospital is a division), teams (medical, clinical and administrative), partners, patients, and community members, we recently arrived at the decision to begin the process of merging. 

We received consistent input through these consultations that a single, integrated service delivery model would improve the overall patient experience, making it easier for our communities to access seamless care and reducing potential delays and duplication of services. 

What are the benefits of merging?

To provide people-focused health care in our communities.  

Our goal in joining together operationally is to provide our communities with faster, improved access to modern, fully integrated care to enable us to better serve our rapidly growing communities for generations to come.  

Further integration will also strengthen our case for a new joint hospital in Kitchener-Waterloo. One of the discussions we have with the Ministry of Health is how we will operate this new facility. A merger will help move this project forward faster.  

The new approach will remove structural barriers between our existing hospitals and leverage our combined strengths as one organization.

When will this take place?

We are aiming to launch the new hospital organization in spring 2025. 

This timeframe depends on the completion of due diligence, consultations with our communities, and a transition process. This timeline may evolve over time through this process. 

This does not mean that all teams will be coming together by that time, but changes in governance and senior leadership structure, as well as corporate, legal and financial due diligence will be completed.  

It will take several years to fully integrate, starting with changes in governance and senior leadership structure, as well as corporate, legal and financial due diligence.

Will Cambridge Memorial Hospital be part of the merger?

Currently, only Grand River Hospital and St. Mary’s General Hospital have agreed to begin the process of a voluntary merger.  

We have kept Cambridge Memorial Hospital apprised of our plan. We’ve indicated we would welcome Cambridge Memorial Hospital to join in our journey, should the hospital be interested.  

Cambridge Memorial Hospital is an important partner of both Grand River and St. Mary’s. We have a long history of working together to coordinate the delivery of health care services across our region.  

There is representation from the Board of Cambridge Memorial Hospital as well as the CEO on our Building the Future Care Together Committee, which is overseeing our plan to build a new hospital and redevelop two sites.

What are the steps that need to occur for this to be successful?

We are undertaking due diligence, further consultations with our communities, teams, and partners on what’s important in the integration approach to improve the patient experience, ministry approvals, transition planning and execution. There are many engagement sessions to come to hear from everyone as we move forward, together. Your input will help us shape what this new hospital organization will look like, what it will be called, and how it will best serve our communities. 

Will integration slow progress on building a new hospital?

No, this has not impacted our planning and progress on the new hospital project to date and will actually allow us to move faster on our planning as we will now be planning as one organization.   

We expect merging will strengthen our case for investment with Ontario’s government and remove potential governance barriers that could delay the project.  

Our new hospital organization will continue to advance the joint plan by Grand River and St. Mary’s to build a new acute care hospital in Kitchener-Waterloo and modernize two existing sites (Kitchener-Waterloo site and Freeport site). 

The decision to come together will also offer a compelling case for existing donors and community members who want to support this once-in-a-generation initiative that transforms local and regional health care. 

What will the new hospital organization be called?

A decision on the new name and identity of the new organization will be made later in the planning process, based on consultation and input with our teams and communities. 

What happens between now and the transition to the new organization?

The way patients access care at either hospital will not change between now and the anticipated launch of operations in spring 2025.  

As we continue along the process, we will hold several engagement opportunities to gather input on what changes and improvements teams, community members and partners would like to see through integration.  

We will provide regular updates on our progress to patients, our teams, community members, health partners, donors and partners over the months ahead.

Will both Emergency Departments remain open after merging in spring 2025?

At this point in time, there is no plan to change any frontline services for spring 2025.  

We will work in partnership to continue to assess where our resources are needed to best meet patient demand between now and when the new hospital opens. 

What is the interim leadership structure?

Both organizations’ Senior Leadership Teams are meeting and working together, as are their respective boards. As the process progresses, we anticipate establishing a transition team to guide operations leading up to the launch of the new organization.

Who will be the CEO of the new organization?

It’s too early to answer that question at this point. 

Boards from both hospitals have begun discussions on establishing a process to bring together the organizations underneath one single President/CEO and an integrated senior leadership team. 

A decision on who will lead the new organization will be determined later in the transition process. 

Will integration lead to any layoffs or job losses?

At this point, it’s too early to say definitively. 

The future of work is changing in general, and we expect there will be changes to jobs and processes.  

Overall, however, we expect the demands on the hospital to grow over time resulting in even more jobs and opportunities for health care workers. 

The goals of our integration are to meet the needs of our communities – needs that are growing in terms of both volume and complexity. 

Both hospitals are currently experiencing a significant shortage of health workers and have hundreds of combined vacancies across numerous job categories. 

Our People(s) and Culture Team will work with our professional staff associations and unions in the months ahead as integration progresses. 

What does a planned merger mean for the current St. Mary's site?

Services will continue to be available at the St. Mary’s site as they are today until a new hospital is completed and fully operational through the Building the Future of Care Together plan.  

Until a new hospital is built and operational, the St. Mary’s site would continue to provide acute care services under the governance of the planned merged organization.    

This will be determined as part of the due diligence process.  

In the coming months, St. Joseph’s Health System will lead an engagement process in partnership with St. Mary’s to explore future opportunities for the St. Mary’s site after its eventual transition from an acute care hospital.  

What will happen to the current St. Mary’s site after the merger and the new hospital is built?

In the coming months, St. Joseph’s Health System will lead an engagement process in partnership with St. Mary’s to explore future opportunities for the St. Mary’s site. 

This engagement process will explore ways St. Joseph’s Health System can continue to support community needs with input from patients, community members, municipal planning bodies, academic, research and innovation partners, and health and social care partners.  

St. Mary’s General Hospital was founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph who saw an unmet need in the community for hospital services. For the last 100 years, St. Mary’s provided mission-based acute care in Waterloo Region. Now in its anniversary year, there’s an opportunity to evolve Catholic health care once again to meet community need. 

What will happen to the foundations at Grand River and St. Mary’s?

Both foundation boards are exploring options through a separate decision-making process. 

Each foundation is governed by their own board – not the hospital boards. 

The foundations will provide updates on their deliberations in the months ahead. 

How can I stay informed/up to date?

We will provide regular updates, including tracking progress on each organization’s website as well as on the Building the Future Together website (futureofcaretogether.ca). 

We will publicize and promote details about upcoming consultation and engagement opportunities. 

Inquiries by email to info@futureofcaretogether.ca are welcome. 

How can I get involved?

We will widely circulate information about upcoming consultation and engagement opportunities.