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Toronto Peter Gilgan Foundation donates $100 million to Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, the largest single gift ever to SickKids

Mattamy Homes’ chief executive officer donated $100-million to Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children on Monday, in the largest single gift ever to SickKids.

The donation from the Peter Gilgan Foundation will redevelop the aging hospital with new facilities, and makes the founder of Canada’s biggest residential home builder the largest benefactor to health care in the country.

“Peter Gilgan put up his hand when he heard about this project," SickKids Foundation CEO Ted Garrard told The Globe and Mail, referring to the current SickKids fundraising campaign. "He said that he wanted to help those kids that might not be able to help themselves and wanted to be part of building a new state-of-the-art hospital that will have a lasting legacy for generations and future kids.”

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Mr. Gilgan first donated money to SickKids in 2012, providing $40-million to help build the SickKids Centre for Research and Learning.

“I’m in a privileged position to be able to make this gift, and I know it’s going to be used to help children today and in the future live longer and healthier lives," Mr. Gilgan said in a press release after Monday’s announcement.

The hospital is in need of a renovation: SickKids’ original building was constructed in 1949 and expanded in 1993, Mr. Garrard said.

“Quite frankly, you can’t practise 21st-century medicine in a 1950s building,” he said. “We desperately need new physical facilities to provide the best possible care to the kids that we see, not only from Toronto, but across Ontario and Canada.”

The money comes at a critical point for the foundation as it approaches the halfway point of the largest fundraising campaign in Canadian health care history.

With three years left in a five year campaign, the latest Gilgan donation brings the foundation to $914-million of its $1.3-billion fundraising goal, or about 70 per cent.

The multimillion dollar gift will go in part toward erecting two new buildings in the city’s downtown core, called the Patient Support Centre and the Peter Gilgan Family Patient Care Tower.

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The former will host a learning institute for hands-on teaching and resources for 6,000 professionals, management and support staff.

The tower named after Mr. Gilgan will house critical-care and inpatient units and offer features such as private one-family rooms, dedicated mental-health beds, a blood and marrow and cellular transplant therapy unit, operating theatres, advanced diagnostic imaging facilities and an expanded emergency department.

The private one-family rooms are an overdue update for departments like the neonatal intensive care unit.

Currently, the SickKids NICU operates in a ward-style setup. The incubators are lined up in a large room, with red tape on the floor demarcating the maximum amount of space available to host each individual newborn’s physicians, nurses, medical tools and family members.

The often crammed unit was outdated decades ago, according to Mr. Garrard.

“If we want to help these babies survive, giving the proper space for the technology, the interaction between the family and the baby, and then the sterile environment so that infection isn’t spread are things that are very important,” he said.

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