CBET, We are grieving’: Queensway Carleton CEO dies suddenly, Ottawa Citizen

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CBET, We are grieving’: Queensway Carleton CEO dies suddenly, Ottawa Citizen

Tom Schonberg, Queensway Carleton Hospital’s well-loved president and chief executive, died suddenly Monday night after being rushed by ambulance to the hospital he had led for more than 20 years.

On Tuesday, the hospital’s board of directors named Leah Levesque as acting CEO. Throughout the day, hospital officials met with and comforted staff.

“We are grieving and we are remembering,” said Greg Hedgecoe, vice-president of organizational effectiveness, diagnostics and corporate services at the hospital. Hedgecoe said it offered staff “some comfort to know he was cared for at his home hospital.”

Schonberg, 65, led Queensway Carleton Hospital through massive expansion and change during his tenure in its top job.

“From a small west-end Ottawa hospital to an Ontario healthcare powerhouse, laser-focused on making things better for people of all ages. What a legacy, what a loss,” tweeted Alex Munter, president and CEO at CHEO.

When Schonberg took on the job, before restructuring resulted in hospitals’ being closed and amalgamated throughout Ottawa, Queensway Carleton was one of the smaller and the newest hospital in the city, opened in 1976.

Today it is a linchpin for health services in the west end of Ottawa and beyond, and it has more than tripled in size with the busiest emergency room in the city. Schonberg oversaw its expansion to become the centre for cancer care in the west end at the Irving Greenberg Family Cancer Centre. The hospital has also become a leader in geriatric care with its Acute Care for the Elderly unit and will soon expand its mental health services and space, among other projects.

“Tom was a steady, guiding hand, and deeply devoted leader — steering the west-Ottawa hospital through many seasons of expansion and growth into the regional leader that it is today,” wrote hospital spokeswoman Ann Fuller in a statement.

Munter called Schonberg a “down-to-earth, practical, solutions-oriented guy” who was quick to laugh and well-liked by those he worked with. He was the longest serving hospital head in the city.

“He is woven into the fabric of our local health care system.”

The Ottawa Hospital released a statement on Facebook extending condolences to his wife, his son “and his entire extended family at the Queensway Carleton Hospital.”

During the day Tuesday, the hospital’s vice-presidents and chief of staff spent time talking to staff and sharing memories.

“It was quite touching. It was amazing how emotional some were,” said Hedgecoe. People were in “absolute shock, followed by sadness and remembering.”

Schonberg is survived by his wife, Ene, and son, Alex.

He was known as a tireless advocate for QCH, its staff and its patients, and was successful in laying the foundation for the hospital’s single largest expansion since its inaugural year in 1976, including an upcoming, substantial expansion to its mental health services and space.

In a statement Tuesday, the hospital writes, “Tom carried a mighty weight for the good of the community he called home. A man of integrity, respect and care, his achievements are due high praise, though his character never sought it. His pride in QCH ran deep, yet he led each step with humility.”

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The Queensway Carleton Hospital family is offering its deepest condolences to Schonberg’s family, Ene and Alex.

The Hospital’s Board of Directors has appointed Leah Levesque as the acting Chief Executive Officer until a full and thoughtful selection process can be completed. Levesque is the hospital’s Vice President Patient Care and Chief Nurse Executive, and has been a healthcare leader for more than 20 years.

epayne@postmedia.com

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