Biz X Was There – The 42 Forward Rally

The 42 Forward Rally – Our New Hospital Event

The 42 Forward Rally – Our New Hospital Event

Recently an enthusiastic and energetic crowd of over 300 Windsor Essex residents attended the newly opened Signature Tribute Events Centre at 3310 Dougall Avenue for a Forward 42 Rally in support of the CR42 Hospital location. They had one very clear message for Premier Doug Ford and Health Minister Christine Elliottt at Queens Park- Build the Hospital NOW!

Guests were welcomed as they arrived to the musical offerings of Windsor Essex Hospice’s Wellness Band. They were invited to complete Petition Cards supporting the CR42 Hospital that will be hand delivered to the Legislature.

This event “42 Forward – Our New Hospital’ was presented by a grassroots group of area residents dedicated to lobbying and advocacy for the County Road 42 Single-Site Acute Care Hospital for Windsor Essex. As residents and taxpayers of Windsor Essex County, they support the chosen location for their new hospital. The group includes Ronna Warsh, Brenda Brunelle, Brian Stocks, Jeff Casey, Gunther Wolfe, Joe McParland, Noah Tepperman, Janis Windsor, and Bev Valliquette. The make it very clear they are a grassroots group with no affiliation with Windsor Regional Hospital or any other interest groups.

The rally was called to order by group chair, Brian Stocks, who welcomed everyone and then introduced his fellow members. He then turned the microphone over to the first of the two evening moderators, Joe McParland.

McParland began with a brief history of the events over the past decade or so that brought this group to this moment. He also functioned as the designated group cheerleader and throughout the night led the crow in chants of “42 For – Ward – Get – it – Built”.

Brenda Brunelle was the evening’s first speaker. She recounted the horrific details of the vehicle accident her husband was involved in two and a half years ago near Wheatly. “Friends, I hope you never find yourselves in such a time-sensitive situation as I did on that fateful night, May 26, 2017 just outside of Wheatly. I was approximately one hour away from our home in Windsor and one hour and fifteen minutes from our regional ‘trauma one’ hospital located on Ouellette Avenue in Windsor. It was a ride that I thought would never end…”.

Brunelle’s heart rending presentation was followed by Diane Marley, a county ‘survivor’ and now community volunteer. She reflected, “I truly enjoy my volunteer work with the Cancer Centre and the Hospital. Between experiences of myself and some family members, we have received excellent care through Windsor Regional Hospital. I can only imagine the experience could be elevated by the introduction of a new, state of the art facility for the patients of Windsor and Essex County.”

Dennis Dowker, the third presenter, is a county resident who moved from the city core a few years back to be with his husband Sandy in Leamington. Sandy is currently in Windsor Regional Hospital recovering from serious surgery. Dowker has seen our medical system from both the urban and rural resident perspective. It is his hope that “our new state-of-the-art Regional Hospital will be the critical wellspring of high-quality health care services FOR ALL Windsor-Essex County residents. Let’s get it built.”

McParland then changed the focus from patient experience to the medical practitioner perspective. Dr, Wassim Saad, Chief of Staff at Windsor Regional Hospital at both the Ouellette and Metropolitan Campuses spoke next. Saad stressed the importance of a single site acute care hospital with all services under one roof. “However, our ability to provide the outstanding care that we aim for is too often compromised – not by our abilities, but by our limitations of space, and our antiquated design.”

He went on to say, “there is a myth – that we have two general hospitals and we are going to end up with just one. Here’s the truth: we have a half of a general hospital at the Ouellette campus, and half of a hospital at the Metropolitan campus. They provide different services. They are one hospital organization, but they are kilometers apart.” Ad Saad underscored that “In the last fiscal year, more than 1,500 patients had to be transferred from Met to Ouellette, or vice versa. That is not ideal medical care, not in this century.”

Dr. Lisa Porter, a Professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Windsor and Translational Research Director with the Windsor Cancer Research Group, was the final of the five presentations in the first half. As an educator and research scientist, Porter is in a unique position to recognize the importance of our new hospital vis a vis the Schulich School of Medicine here in Windsor. She comments, “this investment is much more than just bricks and mortar. This investment is about developing a unified, cutting edge healthcare system that trains the next generation of healthcare professionals, recruits and retains the best and the brightest here in Windsor and most importantly, ensures that every resident of Windsor Essex gets the best care possible.”

McParland then introduced Ronna Warsh who brought the evening to a close with her “Call to Action”.


  • Brenda Brunelle is the mother of two and has two stepchildren. She has five grandchildren. Brunelle retired from the Department of Citizenship and Immigration
    in 2012She had also been the President of their CEIU Local 00601. Brenda has been recognized for her long time advocacy for victims of sexual abuse by clergy (SNAP), Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests
  • Diane Marley, currently the Co-Chair of the Patient and Family Advisory Committee at Windsor Regional Hospital’s Cancer Centre as well as a member of the PFAC for Windsor Regional Hospital. She also serves on the Patient Experience Task Force Committee for Windsor Regional Hospital. These groups are in place to enhance the patient experience at both the Cancer Centre and the hospital.
  • Dennis Dowker Dennis spent 30+ years in the Ontario College system and has devoted his career to student success, faculty recruitment and development, curriculum development as well as all aspects of the OCQAS quality assurance processes. As Executive Director of Academic Excellence and Quality Assurance at St. Clair College, Dennis led the college team to a successful OCQAS audit in 2017, Dowker had retired from his career at the College in September of 2016 but was hired back on contract Prior to his work at St. Clair College, Dowker previously taught at Ryerson University in Toronto, and was Dean of Business at Centennial College. Dennis began his career atFanshawe College in London where he served in various teaching and administrative roles: professor, coordinator, Chair and Dean.
  • Dr. Wassim Saad grew up in Essex County and obtained his B.Sc. in Biology with Honours in Microbiology in 1997 from the University of Windsor. He then graduated medical school from the University of Ottawa in 2001. Saad continued his postgraduate medical specialty training at the University of Toronto in Internal Medicine graduating in 2005. Saad has been in clinical practice in Windsor for over 14 years and has held many professional appointments including Division Head of Internal medicine and Chief Medicine at Windsor Regional Hospital. Most recently, Saad has been appointed as Chief of Staff at Windsor Regional Hospital and oversees the clinical operations at both the Ouellette and Metropolitan Campuses.
  • Dr. Lisa Porter did her PhD at McMaster University in Hamilton in Medical Sciences and then did her Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the University of California San Diego. She started at the University of Windsor in 2004 where she is currently a full professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences. Porter, and her colleague Dr. Caroline Hamm, founded the Windsor Cancer Research Group in 2012 in an effort to elevate the cancer research going on in Windsor Essex. This has grown tremendously and she has recently been appointed as the founding executive director for WE SPARK HEALTH an institute focused on increasing all medical research here in our community. Porter is an advocate of communicating about the importance of health research and education to inspire the next generation of scientists and empower those in need.

42 Forward – Our New Hospital is a grassroots group dedicated to lobbying and advocacy for the County Road 42 Single-Site Acute Care Hospital for Windsor Essex. As residents and taxpayers of Windsor Essex County, we support the chosen location for our new hospital.

Photos by Josie Elysia – Biz X magazine

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