Jeff Heuchert email@example.com
There's a sound ringing out at Stratford General Hospital that's music to the ears for patients, their families, and staff.
A new four-and-a-half foot tall gong – what the hospital is encouraging people to use to mark a significant moment in their lives such as the birth of a child, a last chemotherapy treatment, a successful surgery, or recovery from another health care milestone – was unveiled Friday morning.
"This is a great opportunity," said Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance CEO Andrew Williams, while surrounded by staff and community partners, "a great example of how you can support patients throughout their health care journey."
The instrument was donated by Strickland's Automart and was "a small token of our appreciation for this hospital and this community," said John Strickland.
He explained that the gong was partly inspired by the gong used at the dealership when a customer purchases a vehicle. After hearing the gong one day, Strickland's financial services manager, Brenda Bannon, mentioned that her sister had recently completed cancer treatment in London the day before, and rang a little bell to celebrate.
That got the ball rolling, and eventually Strickland's worked with the London Cancer Centre as well as the hospital in Brantford (where Strickland's also has a dealership) to have gongs installed.
The project has also taken on a more personal tone for Bannon, who around the time London was getting its gong in 2012 was diagnosed with breast cancer. She would beat the disease, and the following year would get to ring the gong she helped make a reality at the cancer centre.
"It just makes you feel like it's such a great achievement," she said about the experience, adding it's fitting the sound hangs in the air after the gong has been struck, just as life continues for patients once they leave the hospital.
The gong at Stratford General Hospital is situated on the second floor main lobby overpass and hangs from a timber stand donated by Bannon Log Homes & Timberframes of St. Pauls, Ont. The company is owned by Bannon's husband Dan.
Dr. Laurel Moore, chief of medical staff for the alliance, said she was thrilled to be a part of the first symbolic striking of the health care gong in Stratford, which she described as a way to very publicly and loudly celebrate some of the hospital's most meaningful and heartwarming successes.
She thanked Strickland's and Bannon for bringing the idea to them and working to "bring the sounds of hope and healing" to the hospital.
"I think it's fabulous," she said.