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Where we started

Headwaters Health Care Centre (HHCC) was the silver lining to a local train crash that motivated a group of women to act on behalf of the needs of an entire community.

A group of 53 women from Orangeville, recognized the need for a hospital close to home. This was during a time when the only means of transportation was horse and buggy and the closest hospital were in Toronto and Fergus. A means of travel and distance which was vast and often difficult.

The women founded the Lord Dufferin Chapter of the IODE and set out on their mission to create a hospital in Orangeville. Hosting events to rally community support and donations, the Chapter raised over $7,000 which at that time was no small feat.

In 1912, the IODE proudly opened the Lord Dufferin Hospital; named after Lord Dufferin, Governor General of Canada , who visited Orangeville when the County of Dufferin was established.

John Hurd, a railway worker, was one of the hospital’s first patients in October of 1912 – his foot was badly crushed by a train. Having care close to home saved him from the dangers of infection and ultimately spared his life.

In a letter to the local paper, Hurd wrote he was deeply indebted to the IODE as the founders of such an institution, “I wish to express my thanks to the hospital staff for the excellent care and attention I received. I feel positive that had the hospital not been so near at the time of my accident I would have had no chance whatever for recovery.” 

Lord Dufferin Hospital was established in the Kearns Home and operated by the IODE. By 1923 the hospital was a trusted and valued institution, experiencing rapid growth. The Charter completed its first major development, the addition of a new wing, to better serve the local community. With this new wing the hospital grew from nine beds to 30.

Also, in 1912, the Lord Dufferin Hospital Training School for nurses opened its doors; providing education, training and mentorship for 56 graduating classes. The school created opportunities for aspiring medical professionals until 1933 when it closed its doors.

In 1950, planning began for a second hospital in Dufferin County, located in Shelburne. A Board was established, members were welcomed, and funds were raised. By July, through generous contributions of the local community, the Shelburne District Co-Operative Nursing Centre was created.

The Nursing Centre settled into the Brett Home on Third Avenue, 20 minutes (by modern day car), from the Lord Dufferin Hospital. The first patient was admitted in December of 1950; occupying one of 14 beds available.

Connected care through the years

1954 was a busy year in Dufferin County. In Shelburne, the Nursing Centre was recognized as a public hospital and began receiving financial support from the province. The name was changed to Shelburne District Hospital. In Orangeville, after 42 years of management, the IODE transferred governance of the hospital to a board of local community members. The Lord Dufferin Hospital became the Dufferin Area Hospital and the second major redevelopment was completed.

The surrounding community continued to bloom and the demand for health care services and programs close to home continued to grow. With a new south wing, the Dufferin Area Hospital expanded from 30 beds to 84, but that still wasn’t enough to properly care for the community.

In 1962, just eight years later, the third major redevelopment project was completed with a new north wing. With this new wing the hospital grew from 84 beds to 123. Experiencing similar challenges, the Shelburne District Hospital, opened a new campus that same year, growing from 14 beds to 30.

The Dufferin Area Hospital and Shelburne District Hospital became the operators of the Dufferin County ambulance services in 1968; a proud moment in HHCC history when our community paramedic partnership was formed.

In 1970, the new Shelburne District Hospital campus underwent its first redevelopment project, which included a new ambulance bay.

The introduction of helicopter air ambulance changed the way care was provided by extending the scope of our community. In 1977, Dufferin County became a go-to for urgent care and medical transport, with the development of an air ambulance helicopter base (now known as Orange). The first response to the Shelburne District Hospital was made in the Winter of 1977.

Becoming Headwaters Health Care Centre

On January 1, 1993, Dufferin Area Hospital and Shelburne District Hospital became the first two rural hospitals to voluntarily amalgamate and became the Dufferin-Caledon Health Care Corporation with one board and medical staff. Areas of care were consolidated, and ambulance services merged.

In 1995, Dufferin County Paramedic Services began operating out of three base locations: Orangeville, Shelburne and Grand Valley. They were also upgraded to 24-hour onsite staff coverage.

On May 3, 1997, a new acute care hospital in Orangeville opened at 100 Rolling Hills Drive and in 1998 a $2.5 million renovation to the Shelburne site was completed. The name Dufferin-Caledon Health Care Corporation was changed to Headwaters Health Care Centre (HHCC) in October 2002.
In 2009, HHCC began performing nuclear medicine, digital mammography and introduced a new 64-slice CAT Scan. HHCC became part of Telehealth-North Network in 2010. That same year, the inpatient complex continuing care unit at Shelburne was relocated to the Orangeville.
In September 2017, HHCC opened the doors to a new 8,000 square foot Ambulatory Care Centre which provides high demand clinics and programs such as dialysis, chemotherapy, minor procedures, orthopedics and plastics.
Today, HHCC celebrates over 100 years of honouring the vision of that original group of 53 women by providing care close to home in Dufferin County. While the population has grown significantly since 1912, we continue to receive community feedback much like that from John Hurd, sharing pride in our hospital.