Algoma Steel donates $1 million to Sault Ste. Marie withdrawal management facility

‘We realize many of the struggles that the community is facing,’ says Algoma Steel president

Sault Ste. Marie health-care officials and elected leaders were on hand at the future site of the Sault Area Hospital Residential Withdrawal Management Facility on July 19 to express gratitude to Algoma Steel for a donation of $1 million towards the centre, scheduled to open in spring 2023. 

Sixteen thousand square feet of the 28,000-square-foot building on Old Garden River Road is being renovated for a 20-bed site for adult withdrawal management.

“We realize many of the struggles that the community is facing,” said Algoma Steel CEO Michael Garcia.

We think this treatment facility will begin to take a step towards addressing the needs of those in our community, and really the people who are going to benefit from this facility are just like us. I’m sure there may be loved ones of ours and future loved ones of ours who will benefit from this facility. It really doesn’t touch a particular segment or portion of the community. It touches all of us,”

The Algoma Steel donation will go towards finishing exterior areas of the building, creation of safe outdoor courtyard spaces for clients, provision of outdoor furniture and fixtures and an accessible, covered staff entrance.

The courtyards will include a culturally inclusive space, a spot where families can visit residents, a place for group therapy, a possible therapeutic gardening program in the summer months and a year-round safe and secure place for residents to spend time outside. 

“On behalf of Sault Area Hospital staff, physicians and volunteers I extend our sincere gratitude and appreciation to Algoma Steel for their generous donation of $1 million,” said Ila Watson, SAH president and CEO.

“Addictions have unfortunately touched many lives here in our community…Algoma Steel saw a need, stepped forward to be a part of the solution and we are grateful to be able to continue to count on them as a community partner,” said Teresa Martone, Sault Area Hospital Foundation executive director. 

Algoma Steel has donated $5 million to the hospital foundation over the years.

“This has been 20 years in the making, trying to get this facility off the ground,” said Sault MPP Ross Romano. “Now, as we see a stronger Algoma Steel, we see an opportunity for our community to begin to have a chance to heal again and this facility is a demonstration of that.”

“It’s important that we have citizens, individuals, but it’s also important that our corporations and our businesses demonstrate citizenship so today is a significant and impressive demonstration of that citizenship from Algoma Steel,” said Sault Mayor Christian Provenzano.

Renovation of the building is proceeding on schedule and should be done by November or December, said Sam Biasucci, Sal-Dan Developments president, speaking to SooToday.

After healthcare equipment is moved in and installed, it is anticipated the facility will welcome clients in spring 2023.

The Ontario government committed more than $18 million in capital grant funding for the construction of the Sault Area Hospital Residential Withdrawal Management site in April. Year-to year operational funding of $343,000 was announced by the province in May 2021.

“This is one piece of the overall mental health and addictions puzzle so we will always be looking for opportunities to expand, connect services, make it more easy to navigate mental health and addictions and provide all sorts of alternatives to any sort of residential care. Specific to this facility we have what we need to operate, but it is a piece of the health system and mental health and addictions in particular,” SAH president Watson told SooToday.

More provincial funding for the facility is contingent on applications coming from SAH, Sault MPP Romano said. “The $343,000 in funding was specifically only for the rent and the food plan. There are so many other annualized funding envelopes that have existed over the last four years…(SAH can) bring the applications forward and I will do everything in my power to get them approved,” Romano said.   

– SooToday


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