A celebration set for Sunday (Sept. 15) will give a whole new meaning to the idea of a group hug.
During the Together We Are More community event, organizers hope there will be enough visitors on hand to ‘embrace’ St. Martha’s Regional Hospital – the regional healthcare facility for the Strait region located in Antigonish.
The gathering, one featuring food, activities, music and fun, is aimed at celebrating and showing support for what Dr. Tania Sullivan described as “our hospital.”
The physician-led event will be the latest initiative of a St. Martha’s group that formed last spring, which includes a steering committee, focused on ‘promoting positive action and healthy sustainable resources’ for St. Martha’s.
“We decided we can’t sit back and wait [for government] to sustain us,” Sullivan said.
The doctors’ group and its supporters – amongst other items – have been working on recruiting and retaining doctors and other staff members.
“We wanted to create momentum ourselves,” she added.
Sullivan described their initiative as “physician-led and community supported,” including this weekend’s community ‘garden party.’
When she and her family moved to Antigonish more than 14 years ago, Sullivan remembered how everyone welcomed them.
“It became our home,” she said.
The emergency room doctor and her colleagues want to ensure healthcare professionals coming to St. Martha’s have that same experience.
“We need to highlight our positives, if we want others to come and join our healthcare team to sustain us into the future,” she said.
“Potential recruits need to feel as I did – that coming to St. Martha’s is like coming home.”
Describing it as “tumultuous times” for provincial health care, Sullivan stressed that “no place is immune or safe from closures,” even a regional facility, such as St. Martha’s.
“This event is meant to be a joining of hearts and hands with our communities to share our gratitude for what St. Martha’s is to each and every one of us,” she said.
A highlight of that ‘coming together’ will be when the doctors and their colleagues, along with community members, encircle St. Martha’s to give it a ‘big hug.’
“It will capture the theme for our event – ‘together we are more,’” Sullivan explained, noting the moment will be captured with an aerial photo.
A pair of bagpipers will lead participants as they form a circle around the hospital.
She said organizers hope “to capture provincial and national attention to help us in our recruitment and retention efforts.”
Sullivan noted local businesses have sponsored the purchase of 850 brightly-coloured free event T-shirts for participants.
Students designed the logo and came up with ‘together we are more’ theme.
The ‘Together We Are More’ celebration, set for 12 to 4 p.m., will take place at the St. Martha’s upper parking lot and grounds.
Community members are encouraged to bring a picnic, or enjoy local food vendors and a barbecue.
There will also be activities, music and fun for the whole family.
“It is about celebrating our people and the community,” Sullivan said.