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Excellence in Rural Healthcare - SFMH earns the highest level of accreditation for quality care

St. Francis Memorial Hospital has been awarded the highest rating—Accredited with Exemplary Standing—from Accreditation Canada.  Accreditation Canada surveyors assess organizations to ensure they are meeting the global standards that lead to safe, effective care.

Surveyors were very pleased with what they found at SFMH during the three-day survey that took place December 8-10, 2021.  During the on-site survey, the surveyor team observed the care that was provided; talked to staff, clients, families and others; reviewed documents and files; and recorded the results.  This process helped the surveyors follow a client’s path through the organization and gave them a clear picture of how service is delivered at any given point in the process. 

SFMH Board of Directors Chair, Joanne King, was pleased to participate in the accreditation process. 

“Each and every staff member, physician and board member is to be congratulated for their dedication and excellence at what they do.  Their ongoing commitment to quality care is what the surveyors felt and saw during their visit and we are fortunate to see it every day. Receiving Exemplary status is truly an amazing outcome for SFMH.  Congratulations to everyone.”

SFMH achieved a 99.3% compliance rate with the standards and met 100% of required organizational practices to ensure safe, quality care.  Surveyors Lynne Campkin, Dr. Julie Lajoie and Donnalene Tuer-Hodes noted that this was particularly impressive in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the final debrief, Tuer-Hodes, speaking for the trio, shared many positives such as the refreshed strategic plan, capital projects, balanced budgets, board ownership for accountability and patient safety, leadership insight and approachability as well as the physical environment/infrastructure.  She spoke highly about the SFMH Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC). “This organization is far ahead of other organizations for patient and family engagement.  The committee feels ‘well-respected, valued, and heard,’ by leadership, physicians and staff.  Members are connected to their community and advocate on all levels of the organization,” stated Tuer-Hodes. 

Not to be outdone, the surveyor team also noted “the formation of the Madawaska Communities Circle of Health sets an example and a possible vision into the goals and outcomes of future Ontario Health Teams.”

The Epic electronic health information system and the new hospitalist model of physician care for inpatients earned praise from the surveyors as well.

Tuer-Hodes also suggested some opportunities for improvement going forward. As noted by Dr. Jason Malinowski, Chief of Staff, “This really is the cornerstone of Accreditation.  It is an assessment of where we are at currently, but also provides us an opportunity to see where we can focus our attention in the future to provide even better care.  I am not surprised at all at the result because the quality and safety initiatives are built into the culture of SFMH.”

Julia Boudreau, SFMH CEO, acknowledged the preparation and onsite work by the surveyors noting that “it’s not an easy task” to come into an unfamiliar organization.  “You made staff and physicians feel comfortable yet asked lots of tough questions to ensure compliance with the standards and ROPS. You were well prepared, and you really gave all of our teams an opportunity to shine.”

Tuer-Hodes said this of their time at SFMH. “It was evident that the hospital was well prepared for the survey, and that staff actively participated in the process.  Physicians were present at survey meetings and engaged in discussions.  We felt welcomed and enjoyed the opportunity to meet with a range of internal and external stakeholders.”

Reflecting on the survey results, Boudreau said, “The provision of excellent care has been our mission at SFMH for a long time—really it’s embedded, it starts at the Board, filters down through senior management, is shared by our physicians, our managers and by all of our staff. It is in our culture and within each of us to always strive to do the best we can do… and that is to provide high-quality patient-centred healthcare in collaboration with our partners.”

Accreditation Surveyors Lynne Campkin, Donnalene Tuer-Hodes and Dr. Julie Lajoie (front row, left) are flanked by hospital representatives, Mary-Ellen Harris, Dr. Jason Malinowski, Joanne King, Greg McLeod, Julia Boudreau, Tim Sonnenburg and Chris Ferguson.

St. Francis Memorial Hospital (SFMH) is a 20-bed community hospital located in the village of Barry’s Bay. It serves a catchment of approximately 10,000 population dispersed over a large geographic area.

The 1,800 sq. kilometers area includes: Renfrew County, a portion of South Algonquin Township in the District of Nipissing and Algonquin Park, Hwy 60 main corridor.  SFMH's mission is "To provide high quality, patient centred healthcare in collaboration with our partners." and is commited to performance. 

hospital front

VISION:  “A Hospital Solution – A Community Solution”: A community healthcare hub that integrates all services that will not only address the unique community needs but also increase the essential critical mass and improve efficiencies in order to respond to current economic realities.

SFMH is built on foundation of Integration success: SFMH is continuously seeking strategic partnerships and solutions that will improve the organization’s efficiency and patient care across the system. In 2012, SFMH received the Small, Rural and Northern Award of Excellence recognizing its innovative leadership in establishing partnerships to expand and improve health services in the Madawaska Valley.

The governance practices and leadership exemplified by SFMH Board were instrumental in achieving integration success and effective partnerships. Key achievements are outlined below.


Renfrew Victoria Hospital (RVH)
SFMH Board established a voluntary partnership with RVH more than a decade ago. Trust, respect and effective governance as well as collaboration between the boards and the CEO are the basis for the tremendous and ongoing success of this partnership.

Outcomes & Impact on patients: Improved access for some 3,700 patients and 1200 Ontario Breast Screening Program clients to receive services locally through clinics integrated with SFMH who would otherwise need to travel to Renfrew (1 hr)  and Ottawa (2.5 hrs)

Eastern Ontario Regional Laboratory Association (EORLA) – SFMH is part of a partnership of 16 hospitals that creates the LHIN-wide integrated and standardized laboratory services. Over 12 million tests are performed annually.

Outcome/Impact: Patients benefit from enhanced quality care through improved standardization delivered seamlessly across the entire region. EORLA enables Laboratory Medicine to operate as a core business, so that decisions and resource allocations can be made in the interest of providing best-in-class Pathology and Laboratory Medicine operations.  Savings achieved from operational improvements will be re-invested in laboratory staff and leading- edge technologies.

The Ottawa Hospital
SFMH and RVH have entered into a partnership with the current 56 radiologists in the Department of Diagnostic Imaging at The Ottawa Hospital (Ottawa Hospital and Region Imaging Associates (OHRIA)). Outcome/Impact: Patients are benefiting from enhanced quality care and response time.

Private Physiotherapy Clinic – Due to the lack and need of physiotherapy services locally, the SFMH created a partnership with a Physiotherapy company and renovated space in its Health Center for a new clinic. Outcome/Impact: Improved access to services, reduced travel for our clients and increased revenue stream for SFMH.