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Dr. Joan Bellaire adds her signature to the last beam needed to build the new West Lincoln Memorial Hospital. Beam-signing ceremonies are a tradition in the construction industry to mark a milestone in the building process.
December 8, 2023

`Beam-ing’ with excitement

WLMH Foundation celebrates new hospital with beam-signing event

 Dr. Joan Bellaire figures she signs her name at least 1,000 times a year for work. But on Nov. 23, her signature felt extra special because it was signed on the last beam needed to build the new West Lincoln Memorial Hospital (WLMH).

Photo of a signed beam for the new West Lincoln Memorial Hospital.

Dozens of community members, hospital staff, doctors partners, community leaders and supporters added their autographs to the beam.

“It was an honour to put my name on the beam,” says Bellaire, medical director for WLMH.

“This hospital has been the heart of our community for many years. It was special to see the community come together to leave their mark on the hospital that will serve the people of West Niagara for many decades to come.”

A beam-signing ceremony is a tradition in the construction industry marking a milestone in the construction process — the placement of the final steel beam needed to complete a building’s framework. Before the beam is placed, it’s signed by the project’s team members and supporters.

“It’s amazing to think that by signing the beam I am a part of WLMH’s history and future at the same time.” — Doris Franklin, WLMH registered respiratory therapist.

With construction of the new WLMH rapidly progressing, the project finally embarked on this exciting milestone, calling for the WLMH Foundation to gather supporters and friends to sign their name on the beam before it was finally hoisted.

Photo from left to right of Kelly Campbell, HHS VP of Corporate Services and Capital Development; Catherine Duffin, WLMH Director of Community Programs and Site Administrator; and Dr. Joan Bellaire. They are holding a sign that reads, "I signed the Beam." West Lincoln Memorial Hospital Foundation.

Kelly Campbell, HHS VP of Corporate Services and Capital Development; Catherine Duffin, WLMH Director of Community Programs and Site Administrator; and Dr. Joan Bellaire, Interim Chief of Family Medicine, Complex Continuing Care and Post Acute Care, and Medical Director for WLMH.

“It has been an honour working with the most generous and dedicated community over the past 24 years as we worked towards this goal,” says Pamela Ellens, CEO of WLMH Foundation. “It is really special to now see the construction of the new hospital.”

A celebration of community

The celebration kicked off with a ceremony attended by staff, partners and supporters, including EllisDon, Infrastructure Ontario, and community leaders such as Grimsby Mayor Jeff Jordan, West Lincoln Mayor Cheryl Ganann, MP Dean Allison, Foundation Chair Kevin Antonides, and Take it to the Finish Line Campaign Chair Andrew Smith.

he EllisDon construction team hoists the signed beam to the top of the new hospital’s framework.

The EllisDon construction team hoists the signed beam to the top of the new hospital’s framework. (Photo courtesy of EllisDon)

Community and staff members were invited to drop by on Nov. 23 and 24 to add their names to the beam. Doris Franklin, who has served as a registered respiratory therapist at WLMH since 2003, was among the many staff members and physicians who took part.

“What an exciting day,” says Franklin.  “It’s been a long-time coming. This is something we’ve been dreaming about since I began working at the hospital. It’s amazing to think that by signing the beam I am a part of WLMH’s history and future at the same time.

A construction worker helps secure the signed beam in the building’s framework.

A construction worker helps secure the signed beam in the building’s framework. (Photo courtesy of EllisDon)

I’ll forever cherish the many amazing memories made in the original WLMH, but I look forward to continuing my career and providing care to my community in our new hospital.”

With support from generous donors and surrounding municipalities that raised $50-million to meet provincial funding requirements, the project broke ground in April 2022 and is slated to open in mid-2025.