Toomas Põldre
Archived Articles 06 Jun 2008 Adu RaudkiviEWR
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Communications chief of a hospital that owns a functioning prison

Toomas Põldre has taken on many challenges in the field of public relations. At present Põldre is tackling important issues that are part of running the office of Director of Communications at Bridgepoint Health (which used to be Riverdale Hospital), just down the road on Broadview Avenue from Estonian House. Bridgepoint is the only hospital in North America that specializes in "complex chronic care". This means the care of patients that have more than one, often several, serious diseases or disabilities.

Pharmaceuticals have extended human life, but management of health by individuals or simply unexplained reasons themselves have complicated the issue. Ergo the need for chronic care. If two or more varieties of chronic care are present then complex chronic care is required.

Answers from our social welfare safety-net systems on individual issues have not kept pace. The demand is far too high. And the monies that governments are willing to answer with are insufficient.

We became aware of the work that the hospital is doing - and has plans to do - when the President and CEO Marian T. Walsh, Vice-President of Medicine Dr. Heather MacDonald and Põldre came to visit the monthly meeting of the Canadian Ethnic Media Association (CEMA).

Põldre has a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree from York University. He graduated from York and was married around the time the economy took a downturn around 1991. His wife, who is of British background and had grown up in Turkey, introduced Põldre to the wonders of international travel and they ended up in Hong Kong (where both their sons were born). Põldre worked in public relations/communications, ending up with Hill Knowlton, an industry leader. He then joined a small public relations company that was starting to promote a project called "Kyoto". Today we know of the project’ s results as the Kyoto Protocols, and even though the signatories of Kyoto do not include three of the world’s largest polluters, Põldre says, "at least we needed to start the dialogue." That is one significant trailblazing effort that we know of.

The second that we know of is at Bridgepoint Health. Its predecessor, Riverdale Hospital, was the oldest hospital owned by the City of Toronto and over the years it had become a sanatorium. "We needed to distance ourselves from the old image," said Walsh, explaining the name change.

"We receive 85% of our patients as referrals from other hospitals to receive the specialized care needed," added Walsh.

"There are fifty specialist doctors, from hospitals around the city, who co-ordinate with our staff doctors to provide the care needed in specialized situations," said Dr. MacDonald.

"We will create … the Bridgepoint Academy which will teach everyone in our hospital and any other hospital in Toronto what we have learned as far as treatment and/or the way of dealing with these chronic diseases and end-of-life care," said Walsh.

"The new hospital will be the first hospital in Canada that will be purpose built for people with complex chronic care. The people doing research, teaching and patient care will all be together so that they can learn from each other in real time," said Walsh.

The hospital will be geared to patient control of their environment. They will be able to control their heat, the shades on the windows and music from their bed. The new hospital will have 475 beds, replacing the old one, which has 472 beds.

Bridgepoint is next door to the Don Jail. As the hospital needs space for expansion and the out-dated jail needs to modernize the solution seemed obvious. The present jail location will become the grounds of the new hospital, with the incarceration facilities moved elsewhere. Rest assured, the jail will be completely torn down, except for the portal (for those that need to be reminded of the past).

From old sanatorium and old prison, to twenty-first century long- term complex chronic care facility. Toomas Põldre has the challenging job of explaining the changes of direction and extent to the public.
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Jan 31 2018 - Toronto Eesti Maja
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