West Nipissing General Hospital


A 98-bed bilingual healthcare facility comprised of 48 Interim Long Term Care, 19 Complex Continuing Care, and 31 Acute care beds, West Nipissing General Hospital serves the rural Northern Ontario markets of Sturgeon Falls and the Nipissing District. Despite the current challenging healthcare environment, the West Nipissing General Hospital has been in a healthy financial position for the past four years with a surplus budget.

West Nipissing General Hospital is a leading healthcare centre in diagnostic and therapeutic services including diagnostic imaging, ultrasounds, mammography, electrocardiography, respiratory therapy, and inpatient physiotherapy. Its community laboratory setting provides additional inpatient and outpatient services, including diabetic and dietician services, as well as Telehealth. The operating room at West Nipissing General Hospital performs about 1,000 procedures each year, with most procedures focusing on colorectal screening, gastroenterology, Ears/Nose/Throat, paediatrics, nephrology, and urology. West Nipissing General Hospital also has a fairly extensive mental health and substance abuse program that also includes crisis intervention.

Additionally, West Nipissing General Hospital recruits visiting specialists from the nearby locales of North Bay and Sudbury to offer greater access to advanced healthcare services, either through consultation or procedurally. This arrangement not only brings more specialized services to the area, but also minimizes the need for elderly patients having to commute to healthcare facilities in the larger urban centres.

“This service is very beneficial as we have an aging population in our community and transportation can be an issue for them. Our services are tailored to meet the needs of our population,” Cynthia Desormiers, CEO of West Nipissing General Hospital, told The Canadian Business Journal. “We have about 20 visiting specialists that come here regularly, in addition to our eight family physicians and one internist, but I would say we need at least another three to five family physicians in the community and another two to three full-time ER physicians.”


West Nipissing General Hospital competes with the larger healthcare facilities in major urban centres across Canada with respect to recruiting physicians. With all the same needs and requirements of a large hospital, West Nipissing General Hospital often faces the squeeze of limited resources, where it is challenged to provide the same level of healthcare services and reporting on a more stringent rural hospital budget. West Nipissing General Hospital partners with the Northern Ontario School of Medicine and the University of Ottawa to accept medical students and residents and has developed a local education group to assist with ongoing recruitment efforts.

West Nipissing General Hospital faces challenges not only with recruitment, but also with the limited financial strength of a smaller community, where it is often more difficult to acquire the funding for the latest advancements in medical technology and equipment. As a result, West Nipissing General Hospital is looking to partner with its regional Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) in developing a draft proposal that outlines its initiative to provide a CT scanner to the community in the coming years. Despite this need for added personnel and medical technology, West Nipissing General Hospital also faces capacity concerns – originally constructed as an 89-bed hospital, increased patient beds, expanded outpatient services, and added office space means a need for greater accommodation and a facility renovation or expansion.

“Many of us wear many hats and that can be a challenge, but it also provides our employees with the opportunity to enjoy a variety of tasks,” Desormiers detailed. “I believe our hospital also needs to expand physically, with respect to office space, program growth, and patient needs, we are in the process of creating a second palliative care room. We are under regular renovations, improvements, and construction.”

Baby Boomers

The Baby Boomer generation – those born between the years 1946 and 1964 – represents the primary demographic across the Nipissing District and Ontario as a whole. As this population ages, it increases the pressure on the provincial healthcare system, where there is now greater demand for not only increased service but also more advanced healthcare services aimed toward more complex care needs.

“We are also seeing it now with our physicians and staff who are in the aging category,” Desormiers explained. “We have an enormous amount of staff who are longstanding employees with anywhere from 20 to 30 years of seniority, but they are all reaching that same 55-to-65 age category. We anticipate a fair amount of turnover within the next five years simply because of retirement.”

Looking toward the future, Desormiers hopes to guide West Nipissing General Hospital into becoming a centre of excellence and a workplace of choice that will attract the greatest healthcare professionals and provide the best in patient care. “Having just completed our five-year strategic plan, we are looking to enhance capital planning; invest in the organization and its people; enhance quality of work life and patient experience; and partnerships for an excellent patient-customer-client experience,” states Desormiers. “I would like to see us working to enhance our chemotherapy department and mental health and substance abuse programs in particular. It is very busy given the increase in the number of cancer patients and mental health and substance abuse needs. It is really important that we keep care close to home, working with our regional and district hospital.”