Guelph General Hospital’s president and CEO Marianne Walker has taken over the role as hospital lead for Waterloo Wellington’s COVID-19 response.
Her appointment follows the recent departure of St. Mary’s General Hospital’s Lee Fairclough, who announced earlier this month that she is running for the Liberal Party in the upcoming Ontario election.
“I’d like to express my appreciation for the great work Lee did in helping keep the community well informed about the pandemic’s impact on local hospitals,” Walker said.
Fairclough joined St. Mary’s in January 2020 and during the pandemic, she led the co-ordination between eight local health facilities in Waterloo Region, Guelph and Wellington County when it came to sharing resources, reducing or increasing services and freeing up beds.
The chief regional officer of Ontario Health West, Susan deRyk, said the importance of good communication going forward cannot be overstated.
“I am confident that Marianne will ensure that information flows seamlessly across partners, and continue to build on the timely and easy-to-understand communications that Lee could be counted on to share previously,” she said.
Walker said hospitals are still challenged by the number of COVID-19 patients and the high number of staff off, and added that having the province extend the mask mandate for high-risk settings is welcome news.
“We know that masks help protect against COVID along with other preventable measures such as vaccination. We are committed to follow the science and continue masking and vaccination mandates,” she said. “Vaccinations and masking continue to be important in reducing the risk of getting COVID and possibly having to come to hospital.”
While it’s unclear how long the position of hospital lead for Waterloo Wellington’s COVID-19 response will be needed, Walker has already announced her intention to retire as head of the Guelph General by the end of 2022.
It’s a role she has been serving in since 2014 and the search for her replacement is currently underway by a committee formed by the hospital’s board of directors.