From left: Dr. Zoë Thomas, Adult Psychiatry Day Treatment Program and Trauma-Focused Therapy Program, Jewish General Hospital; Edward Wiltzer, Chair, JGH Corporation; Susan Avon, Director and Secretary, Doggone Foundation; Paul R. Marchand, Executive-Director and President, Doggone Foundation; Bill McLellan, Director (deceased); Dr. Karl Looper, Psychiatrist-In-Chief, Jewish General Hospital

Paul Marchand, a catalyst for transformative change via two family foundations

“Pay it back by doing all kinds of good things.” This enduring philosophy has guided Paul R. Marchand throughout his life in both his personal and professional actions, often enabling transformational impact—including at the Jewish General Hospital.

Now retired, he muses that his career in law—he was a partner at Byers Casgrain specializing in tax, estates and trusts—was not a given, “I sort of fell into it.” However, that career became a gateway for doing good which spanned decades, and continues today in his role as executive director for both the Doggone Foundation and the Vodstricil family estate.

“Early on at my first firm, I was fortunate to have had a wonderful, inclusive mentor, Bill Stewart, who looked after estates and trusts. He sadly died very young, and I tried my best to fill his shoes. He believed that happiness was not the result of success but by helping other people. And that would in turn give meaning to the work,” he recalls.

“Therefore, working in the area of estates, I never saw myself as someone who was doing just law. I felt I was helping people with their lives as well as their legacies—and to make a difference.”

Case in point: Elspeth McConnell, the woman behind the Doggone Foundation, which Paul Marchand established on her behalf, and administers. Widowed young, she continued to build a prolific collection of art, much of which was only discovered later in her life when Marchand personally helped her transition to a seniors’ residence. That art—including a Jackson Pollack and other notable works—combined with securities, resulted in an estate worth millions.

Strong-willed, McConnell eventually yielded to Marchand’s influence to use the funds for medical purposes. The choice to invest in the JGH stemmed from her admiration for the Hospital dating back to the 1970s, when her late husband had been treated there—and its inclusion and openness in the area of mental health.

“The Foundation at the Jewish General Hospital, with the guidance of Chief of Psychiatry, Dr. Karl Looper, has been instrumental in building The Elspeth McConnell Mental Health and Wellness Centre, one of the finest of its kind in Canada,” he states.

Stewarded by Marchand, gifts from the Doggone Foundation totalling over $4 million have established the Centre at the JGH, which opened in 2019, among other vital mental health initiatives.

“With the help of the Doggone Foundation, we have established the only publicly available comprehensive therapy program for trauma-focused therapy in Quebec,” shares Dr. Looper, “one which is facing a deluge of referrals reflecting the unmet needs in this area.”

In addition, its Mental Health Day Treatment Centre is a thriving hub for intensive outpatient mental health care—of unprecedented importance during the pandemic. The funding also supports the Centre of Excellence in Geriatric Psychiatry, enabling this JGH department to be “one of the prominent centres for geriatric psychiatry research and training in North America”, states Dr. Looper.

Paul Marchand is noticeably humble when it comes to his involvement in making these projects a reality. “When you have this kind of work, and work with these kinds of fascinating people, you have wonderful stories to tell, and important things to do.”

Another significant gift that Marchand orchestrated stems from the Vodstricil family estate, in which instructions were to leave the funds to the Jewish General Hospital, where one of their sons had been treated, but with no specific designation.

“When I met Mrs. Vodstricil, she was already a widow, and had an interesting story to tell,” he remembers. During WWII, they fortuitously decided to flee Belgrade, and their established life there, just 15 minutes before the Gestapo arrived on their doorstep.

“But I didn’t know when I helped organize her affairs initially, that this would be the result,” he states. In early 2020, when the funds became available to donate, the world was catapulted into an unprecedented time. Marchand explains that the pandemic revealed an opportunity to invest in nurses, particularly important now and for the future.

Most of the $3.5M contribution to the Jewish General Hospital has been dedicated to helping the JGH achieve ‘Magnet Hospital’ status for excellence in nursing and patient care as well as innovation in professional nursing practice—a stringent certification and coveted honour that helps hospitals attract and retain the best nurses and professional staff. It would be the only hospital in Quebec to achieve this designation.

“Nurses and people in healthcare do an extraordinary job, as we have all witnessed during this crisis. They are on the front-lines and should be better rewarded for their tireless efforts and expertise. Their future is all our future,” he shares. “Furthermore, if, through this private funding, I have indirectly helped bring greater public funds into nursing and nurse practitioners, I have done a good thing.”

Paul Marchand’s 80 years have been influenced by remarkable mentors, clients, family and a life lived by the early-learned tenet to pay it forward. And he continues to live true to the words that he learned as a boy attending Lower Canada College: Non Nobis Solum (not for ourselves alone).

“What we do for other people comes from what we give to other people, not what we amass for ourselves. If there is one thing I can suggest, it is to find something that makes use of your talents to help someone every day. You will be happier, have more success and deeper bonds. It sounds simple, but it is true.”

Last Updated August 2021

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Former grateful Jewish General Hospital patient leaves a lasting legacy for future exceptional care

For Lyette Soucy, the Jewish General Hospital (JGH) is synonymous with cutting-edge, innovative medicine. That is what inspired her to become a legacy donor.

In 2019, after undergoing routine breast cancer screening, her doctor referred her to the JGH to undergo more extensive testing.

“I had three biopsies with no pain at all. I was very pleased with the medical care I received from Dr. Francesca Proulx and her team at the JGH Radiology Department. I experienced right away the medical excellence of this Montreal healthcare facility, home to some of the world’s leading experts in a variety of medical specialities. In the time I spent in the departments where I was treated, I saw that they were equipped with the latest in medical technology.”

Lyette then learned that the hospital was able to purchase this highly sophisticated medical equipment thanks to donations to the JGH Foundation. “Most Quebecers believe that the government pays the full cost of our healthcare system, which is far from the case. Many are unaware of the admirable and enormous amount of work done by the foundations of major hospitals, including the JGH, which makes a big difference in the lives of the patients it treats.”

Wanting to learn more about the needs of the JGH, she visited three departments: Neurology, Oncology and Neonatology. “I was very impressed by the organization of these departments, their state-of-the-art medical equipment and the major advances they make every day in the field of medical research. During my visit, I had the privilege of meeting with senior members of these departments, including Dr. Té Vuong, a leading expert in colorectal cancer. They explained to me clearly the respective missions of their departments and the challenges they face on a daily basis.”

After the visit, which made a deep impression on her, Lyette seriously explored the possibility of making a legacy gift to the JGH Foundation. “I could clearly see the positive impact on the JGH by becoming a legacy donor to the Foundation.”

For Lyette, it is imperative that her legacy gift reflect her personal beliefs. “I want to ensure that the money I worked hard for and managed carefully during my lifetime will be put toward the collective well-being of our society, and used wisely by my heirs. This legacy gift will allow me to make a significant difference in the lives of many patients. It will also give me the tremendous satisfaction of having accomplished something extraordinary during my lifetime.”

She has full confidence in the JGH Foundation to manage her legacy. “The Foundation has a solid and well established reputation. I have opted for an endowment, with the annual income used to fund specific projects. The Foundation will also serve as my executor.”

In the meantime, Lyette has made a donation to the JGH, which she describes as “modest,” of which she is very proud. It was used to buy a new medical device for breast cancer screening. “The device will make it possible to screen 600 women a year for five years. These small technological tools can make a world of difference. They certainly help to reinforce the excellent reputation of the JGH.”

To find out more about Legacy Giving click here.

Last updated May 2021

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A Legacy in the name of his parents

Son of former JGH patients leaves a Legacy of excellence in care for future generations

The power of a planned gift is undeniable. To each person, leaving a legacy means something different and uniquely personal, to put a stamp on the future. To Yoav Ifergan it means honouring his parents who both underwent treatment at the Jewish General Hospital

“The greatest person who influenced me and I tried to emulate the most was my mother. She inspired me to give back,” Yoav shared. “Sadly, my mother succumbed to her illness many years ago, but her loving and caring generosity of spirit remains with me.”

In addition to his mother’s on-and-off treatment at the JGH, his father was also admitted to the hospital for three separate, equally concerning health issues.

“The first visit, he went in for bypass heart surgery,” Yoav explained. “The second visit was much more critical. He had suffered a stroke.”

While recovering in the Intensive Care Unit for over a month, the doctors made it clear to Yoav that his father had a 50 per cent chance of survival. He had developed an infection as a result of the stroke.

“Miraculously, he overcame both ailments at the same time and had no side effects as a result of the stroke or the infection,” Yoav said happily. “The doctors and nurses that attended to him were just amazing. You don’t really realize when you’re going through something traumatic like that, it’s only many years down the line when you reflect back that you realize how amazing the doctors and nurses were.”

“To this day, my father claims that the staff at the Jewish General saved his life. The way my parents were treated at the hospital was part of why I made a planned gift to the JGH. It was an opportunity for me to pass on some of my mother’s values and virtues to future generations of patients.”

There are many ways to support the JGH Foundation through a planned gift, with the most common being a bequest in your will. This type of donation represents about 90% of all planned gifts in Canada. A bequest is essentially a gift made through your will or trust; it can be a piece of property, a percentage of your estate, securities or cash. The funds will be distributed based on your predetermined instructions—to support or endow specific departments or programs, or to be used at the Hospital’s discretion.

Yoav’s gifts reflect two priorities at the Hospital. One is a general gift, providing undesignated funds to the area of greatest need at the JGH. The other was designated for the Intensive Care Unit. 

“I see the ICU as a place where there’s sophisticated equipment. It’s a nurse being by your side 24/7. It is space that’s a combination of technology mixed with human care and tenderness,” said Yoav.

“The bottom line: my gift will provide funding that will serve the community in a meaningful and purposeful way and save human lives. You can’t put a price on that.”

To find out more about Legacy Giving click here.

Last updated April 2021

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Newly published book brings hope and healing to JGH esophageal cancer patients

Self-published book, all proceeds will go to the Jewish General Hospital

There is no bond that we know of in the world, greater than that of a mother and her child. A mother’s love remains unconditional, devotionally extending even beyond the realm of life itself. For Florence Cohen, this hits close to home.

Florence’s daughter, Dr. Andrea Joy Cohen, M.D., O.B.M., tragically passed away in 2015 of esophageal cancer. A doctor, scientist, cancer researcher, author, poet and inspirational speaker, Dr. Cohen epitomized success in the eyes of her mother. “I think about my daughter all the time. I'm proud of her. She radiated kindness and she was a wonderful daughter,” Florence shared.

Dr. Cohen authored many poems and a book, A Blessing in Disguise: 39 Life Lessons from Today’s Greatest Teachers, published in 2008. It received much acclaim and debuted on the LA Bestseller List in its first week, as well as ranking on other lists following. Andrea had written two more manuscripts but she became ill with esophageal cancer, and did not have time to bring them to publication before she passed away.

When she died, Florence felt it was her responsibility to honour her daughter’s legacy. With two of Dr. Cohen’s unpublished manuscripts in hand, she thoughtfully began to prepare the documents for publication but didn’t know where to start.

Florence’s physiotherapist at the JGH, Natasha Grant, took her story to heart. "She spoke to her partner, Paul DuVernet, a graphic designer, who volunteered to design the book, and help get it published.” Thanks to the generous guidance offered by Paul, Florence self-published the second edition of Dr. Cohen’s book aptly named A Blessing in Disguise: 42 More Life Lessons from Today’s Greatest Teachers.

Over the years, Florence and her family were patients at the JGH. Dr. Cohen spent most of her adult life in the USA but was treated at the JGH when she was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. “All the proceeds of this book will go to the Jewish General Hospital, and more specifically to research esophageal cancer. I realize this type of cancer could benefit from some attention so, I hope it raises awareness for esophageal cancer research,” Florence shared.

The JGH’s Segal Cancer Centre is a state-of-the-art facility which provides patients with the most comprehensive approach to care, combining cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment, psychosocial support, nutritional support and clinical and fundamental research in cancer. In addition to patient care, the Segal Cancer Centre is home to thriving cancer research programs focusing on fundamental, translational, clinical, nursing, psychosocial and palliative care research.

Florence concluded, “I am so gratified to be able to fulfill Andrea’s wish, and I’m very pleased to be able to share it with you. I hope you enjoy Andrea’s book, and feel her spirit through it.”

To purchase Dr. Cohen’s book on Amazon click here.

Last Updated April 2021

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Let’s be prepared!

Quebec community leader raises funds and awareness for infectious diseases

COVID-19 has dramatically affected how people in the province of Quebec are giving. According to a recent publication, although much of the event-based fundraising has been cancelled, funds raised by corporate donations, private foundations and individuals were massively redirected to organizations working on the frontlines. Meanwhile, forward-thinking and loyal donors have ramped up initiatives using their influence to inspire other community members.

 “I experienced excellence in patient-centered care that one can only encounter at the Jewish General Hospital. The treatment quality is unparalleled,” said Quebec media owner and Chairman of the Board of RNC MEDIA Inc., Pierre R. Brosseau. Connected to the hospital through the late André Bureau, former CRTC chair and Astral Media president, Pierre was called upon to help support the hospital over a decade ago.

In 2014, Pierre created Le Festin de Babette, a JGH Foundation community partner event. His goal: to assemble key Quebec families and changemakers together in one room, to wine and dine, while raising funds for Alzheimer’s Disease research in Dr. Andréa C. LeBlanc’s laboratory at the Lady Davis Institute. “My father passed away from Alzheimer’s disease, and I am sensitive to the cause because I am a good candidate for this illness.”

Donating nearly $3 million in personal and Brosseau Family Foundation gifts, Pierre was delighted by the success of the event and decided to change the focus of his philanthropic efforts for the next 5 editions of Le Festin de Babette in 2019, the year before the pandemic hit. “After meeting with Dr. Karl Weiss, the Chief of Infectious Diseases at the JGH, I was sold and decided the benefitting department would be his until 2023. It was harder then to get people interested in supporting the Centre for Infectious Diseases initially, but we still managed to raise $400,000.”

In the spring of 2020, with the coronavirus impacting each and every one of us, donations to combat this deadly virus, among other infectious diseases, suddenly became very necessary and relevant. “People began to recognize the importance of investing in research to fight infectious diseases. The Honorable Denis Coderre, who also happens to be the JGH Foundation’s Ambassador, decided to join me in raising funds and awareness for the newly formed The Centre of Excellence in Infectious Diseases at the JGH, headed up by Dr. Weiss. Together with the Foundation, we are working on a campaign to raise $7.5 million through our combined connections. Following the initial solicitation of major donors, the general public will be solicited through television and radio networks across Quebec at the end of February 2021.”

The Centre of Excellence in Infectious Diseases will be home to 7 new microbiologists, who will devote themselves to the discovery of novel means to prevent antibiotic resistance, as well as research into other viral and infectious diseases. We must be ready for what comes next. We have seen first-hand the impact of COVID-19 on our society, our health, our way of life. It is only through cutting-edge research – the kind that happens at the JGH – that we will be able to meet the next microbial foe head-on.

“I have been privileged in my life to be able to give back, and I hope to impart that same desire onto my children. If we have it in our wallets and our hearts, we should do what we can to leave this world a better place. It is just the way I see things at this point in my life.”

February 2021

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K.I.D.S. Supporting Kids

Daycare vernissage raises funds for Mental Health at the JGH

Over the last decade, many have recognized the importance of good mental health in adults, but some are still learning about its significance in the lives of children. At least 70 percent of mental health problems have their onset during childhood and adolescence. 

“We have seen children here at the daycare who are dealing with grief related to the loss of a loved one or a parent who was sick. It’s especially challenging for some of them this year in dealing with COVID-19. It is definitely affecting them,” said Susan Lottner, the Coordinator at K.I.D.S. Daycare – Technoparc Montreal. “Children from the daycare do benefit greatly from behavioural management programs. We had one child in particular who benefited greatly from the JGH’s program.”

For the last two years, the children at K.I.D.S. Daycare – Technoparc Montreal and their families have been fundraising to support The Centre for Child Development and Mental Health at the Jewish General Hospital. Raising over $1,600 this year, the children between the ages of one and five-years-old held an outdoor art vernissage for their parents.

“We have a program here called the Art Appreciation Program at the daycare. Basically, the children learn about a different artist every month, and then they use different techniques and art media to create art – whether it’s finger painting, collage, brush painting, etc. It all culminates into this vernissage and we thought why not support the JGH which is supporting the children from the daycare? It’s children supporting children,” Susan shared enthusiastically.

Providing programs and services to children between the ages of 3 and 12 years of age since 1966, The Child Psychiatry Department of the Jewish General Hospital consists of several interdisciplinary teams. These include the Early Childhood Disorders program, the Day Treatment program and the Out-Patient/Evening Hospital program.

The donation from K.I.D.S. was received through the Mindstrong Fitness Event which supported the complete rebuilding of the new Carole and Andrew Harper Psychiatry Inpatient Unit at the JGH. The inpatient unit has grown from 16,000 sq ft to over 27,000 sq ft., including a designated geriatric section and large occupational therapy room.

Last updated January 2021

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Volunteering To Make A Difference

Volunteers play an important role at the JGH Foundation. They make a difference by purchasing much needed equipment, improving the physical premises of the hospital, and supporting programs and events with their energy, enthusiasm and good will.

Diane is one of those extraordinary people. Raising funds and supporting departments at the JGH for over a decade, she started her own charity called Vision of Hope in 2008 after her husband passed away from cancer.

“My husband was very healthy. He was a runner. He was in good shape. It was very quick. We were in shock,” Diane described. “But, I was so thankful for the medical staff at the JGH on the oncology ward who tried to do everything they could to save his life.”

By his bedside, in Pavillion D on the 7th floor, Diane slept on a stretcher on and off for over a year. She decided she wanted to make the experience more comfortable for future family members of JGH patients.

“With the help of amazing friends and family, we did a winemaker's dinner and we raised over $700,000. This enabled the cancer ward at the JGH to buy new furniture,” said Diane.

Most recently, Diane partnered with Gildan and Mitchel Kendall in order to distribute 1,500 sweaters to oncology patients receiving chemotherapy. She also delivered 750 care packages to the geriatric unit thanks to Avon Canada, BethCare Senior Services, Colgate/Palmolive and Maximage.

“Karine Lepage who was formerly head nurse of the oncology department, which I donated to over the years, had switched to geriatrics and reached out to me for help. So, I jumped right in to do my part and the response I got from the community was overwhelming. I mean, people were just so kind and generous,” Diane added.

Making a difference in the lives of hundreds if not thousands of JGH patients and staff, The Foundation is proud and humbled by Diane’s efforts.

“Diane embraces everything we look for in a volunteer and supporter of the Hospital & its Foundation,” said Stephanie Roza, Manager of Volunteer Engagement at The JGH Foundation. “We are truly grateful to her for her time, her generosity and for leveraging her network and resources so that she could help bring comfort and joy to patients and staff.”

November 2020, last updated January 2021

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Stay Safe Little One

Children’s book promotes positivity and caution while paying it forward

When the pandemic first hit in March of this year, Claudia Amato and her family consumed a lot of news related to the novel coronavirus. And they weren't alone. Reports suggest that media consumption has broken historical records in North America. "The fact that we were watching everything in the beginning, the kids were getting bombarded by very scary statistics in the news. They were asking me constantly, 'Mom – what are the numbers today?' And I would tell them, and they'd say 'Oh – that's bad, that's bad!'" Claudia said.

To quell their fears, Claudia decided to write a story about a big virus and the many little warriors who must face it. "The first idea behind the book was to teach the children about being safe and washing their hands and so on," she added. "The second was to give them hope."

Then one night, her husband noticed what she had been writing and told Claudia he believed other children would benefit from it. "The story helped counteract all the messages we were seeing because it was very much focused on the present and not looking too far ahead into the future – that things will be better again."

Fast forward just a couple of months, and almost 700 copies of the book Stay Safe Little One have been sold. Alongside friend and illustrator Jennifer Nozzolillo, Claudia decided to donate all of the profits to the JGH Foundation's COVID-19 Relief Fund. Close to $1,800 has been donated so far, and Claudia couldn't be prouder.

“The community was just so supportive. Without it, none of this would have been possible,” she shared enthusiastically. “We hope this action will encourage others to donate and to actively be a part of fighting the virus in the real world at the JGH.”

The JGH was the first hospital in Montreal to treat adult patients with the coronavirus. Their efforts fueled necessary research, like Dr. Brent Richardson’s biobank, which made predicting optimal treatment for COVID-positive patients possible and telehealth programs like ESOGER1, an online tool that evaluates the socio-geriatric situation of a specific elderly individual.  

“I think we have to be a little more patient than we want to be, but be that as it may, we are here now, and hopefully, an end is in sight.”

December 2020, last updated January 2021

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