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The Globe and Mail

Thomsons donate $5-million to Toronto East General

Ken and Marilyn Thomson Patient Care Centre Toronto East General Hospital

A state-of-the-art care centre designed to reduce the spread of infection, handle outbreaks and speed patient recovery times through improved design is a step closer to reality because of a donation from the Thomson family.

Peter Thomson and his wife Diana are donating $5-million to the Toronto East General

Hospital to create the Ken and Marilyn Thomson Patient Care Centre, named in honour of Mr. Thomson's parents.

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"I'll be very proud to have my parents' name on a building like that," Mr. Thomson, director of Thomson Reuters Corp. and chairman of Woodbridge Co. Ltd., which owns a controlling stake in The Globe and Mail, said in an interview.

As mounting evidence links better building design to improved patient health, hospitals around the world are undergoing extensive restructuring. The Ontario government gave the green light last August to a $211-million makeover for Toronto East General to incorporate more natural light, more private rooms and improve the use of space. The patient care centre, an eight-storey building for in- and outpatients, will become the hub of the hospital's activities.

The Thomson donation is the largest single gift to the campaign to raise money for rebuilding the crowded, outdated 80-year-old facility.

"It's really transformational for the hospital," said Rob Devitt, chief executive officer of Toronto East General.

The donation will be announced at Toronto East General on Wednesday morning.

The Thomsons said they have been going to Toronto East General for years – including for the birth of their daughter.

"It just seemed like a really fantastic enterprise," Mr. Thomson said. "We just really enjoyed our time there and we appreciate the work they're doing."

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The new patient care centre is planned to feature 280 medical and surgical beds, outpatient programs grouped on the first two floors to make them more convenient, and modern infrastructure that can accommodate new technology. A major focus will be on infection control through improvements such as increasing the number of single rooms, and units that can be converted to isolate patients in an outbreak.

It will have large gardens and lawn areas, a roof garden for patients, visitors and staff, access to ample natural light and other design elements that research has linked to shorter hospital stays and improved patient outcomes.

The care centre will be the "hallmark" of Toronto East General's redevelopment, said Michael Burns, chair of the hospital foundation's board of directors.

"This is going to be a state-of-the-art hospital that will ultimately deliver better services ... ," Mr. Burns said. "We're thrilled to have [the Thomson family]associate with the work that our physicians and nurses and others are doing there."

The hospital opened in 1929 with 110 beds. While additions and upgrades have been made over the decades, the redevelopment project will finally bring the hospital up to modern design standards, Mr. Devitt said.

Toronto East General's announcement comes a few months after the family of Audrey Campbell, daughter of Roy Thomson, Peter Thomson's grandfather and founder of the family business, and sister to Ken Thomson, pledged $30-million to create a new research institute at Toronto's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. The family has also pledged nearly $70-million to cancer research at Toronto's Princess Margaret Hospital.

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Ken Thomson, who died in 2006, was well-known as a philanthropist, including a massive donation to the Art Gallery of Ontario that helped pave the way for its redevelopment.

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