Rama First Nation’s gift helps OSMH open mental health safe rooms

Council members performed a traditional smudge ceremony and blessing for each room to honour traditional Indigenous practice




Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital (OSMH) has opened two new mental health safe rooms in its Emergency Department allowing for greater capacity of care when attending to vulnerable members of the community.

The OSMH Emergency Department serves approximately 50,000 patients per year and has seen an increasing need for those requiring inpatient mental health care. Before the addition of two new safe rooms the Hospital was operating with one.

“We had been limited in our capacity to safely care for those experiencing issues with mental health, and recognized that with increasing presentations to the Emergency Department, we needed to do something about it,” said Philip Hough, program director, critical care and mental health services at OSMH.

Fulfilling this need for the community was made possible by the generous support of Chippewas of Rama First Nation. Rama First Nation made a $115,000 commitment to the hospital in support of mental health care and life-saving equipment.

Chief Ted Williams and Council of Rama First Nation were present during the official opening of the safe rooms. Council members performed a traditional smudge ceremony and blessing for each room to honour traditional Indigenous practices. The rooms were named Mishoomis Giizis (Grandfather Sun) and Nookmis Dbik Giizis (Grandmother Moon) by Chief Councillor and community elder Lorraine McRae. 

“We’ve come a long way in a short amount of time for understanding the needs of the Indigenous community,” said Chief Ted Williams of Chippewas of Rama First Nation. “10-15 years ago a smudge ceremony wasn’t even seen as a possibility at the hospital, yet here we are, and we feel your appreciation for our contribution.”

OSMH president and CEO, Carmine Stumpo, expressed his gratitude for the gift from Chippewas of Rama First Nation saying, “we are honoured to have community partners who are supporting the hospital’s growing capacity for care. I thank the Chippewas of Rama First Nation for allowing more opportunity for patients needing urgent mental health care and for honouring the Hospital and community with the smudge ceremony and blessing.”

The Chippewas of Rama First Nation continue to provide significant support for the Hospital with a giving total of $685,000 over the past 20 years. In addition to the mental health safe beds, their most recent pledge of $115,000 has allowed for the purchase of automated medication dispensing cabinets for various units around the hospital.


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