St. Mary's General Hospital Foundation

The mystery donor who transformed surgery at St. Mary’s

A National Philanthropy Day feature

Sometimes help comes in an unexpected way.
And in healthcare, it can be lifesaving. That’s the story of Brian Baker, the St. Mary’s General Hospital Foundation donor that no one knew.
Baker’s name may sound familiar to patients and their families now: the hospital’s second-floor surgical suites were named after him in 2007, following Baker’s $2.7-million estate donation – the single largest gift made to St. Mary’s at that time.
But here’s the thing: Baker wasn’t a former St. Mary’s patient. He had no known connection to the hospital. Both the man, and the reason for the immensely significant donation he left, were a mystery.
Through his lawyer, I learned more about our generous, albeit enigmatic, donor.
Baker was a pharmacist who ran his own pharmacy in Waterloo for 30 years, administering aftercare prescriptions to St. Mary’s patients who often shared how they were cared for at the hospital.
He heard stories about the outstanding care at St. Mary’s – the attention to detail, the empathy and compassion, and the holistic focus on the mind, body and soul. He wanted his life’s work to reflect that level of care.
Baker’s gift was a life jacket to St. Mary’s. With new operating room standards, the hospital needed more space to accommodate advances in equipment. The changes came with a $2-million price tag, money we did not have at that time.
So Baker’s donation gave St. Mary’s a boost – at the exact time it needed it.
The impact of his gift is long lasting, with thousands of surgeries conducted at St. Mary’s since then.
That’s the ripple effect of philanthropy; your donation today, no matter the amount, makes a difference to others well into the future.
Photo: Brian J. Baker Surgical Care Centre signage at St. Mary's General Hospital
Here at St. Mary’s, donations help advance medical breakthroughs and build a well-equipped environment of care that benefits people across the rapidly growing Kitchener-Waterloo Region.
As we head into the holiday season, we also recognize National Philanthropy Day and Make a Will Month in November. Both occasions serve as reminders about how a culture of giving, whether it’s a one-time donation or a large estate gift, can change the world beyond your lifetime.
That’s exactly what Brian Baker did.
His monumental gift was inspired by stories of past patients, and it rippled into transforming care for future generations – for people he’d never get to meet.
Leaving a legacy is not just for our immediate circle, but for those well beyond it. Baker understood that, and he left us with the inspiration to do the same.
Susan Dusick, President & CEO, SMGH Foundation

Susan Dusick

President & CEO, SMGH Foundation

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About St. Mary's General Hospital Foundation
St. Mary’s General Hospital Foundation is a charitable organization dedicated solely to generating financial support for the lifesaving care provided by St. Mary’s General Hospital. Funds donated by the community through St. Mary's General Hospital Foundation go toward vital equipment, construction and resource requirements for St. Mary’s General Hospital which are not covered by or exceed funding provided by the Ontario Ministry of Health.
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About St. Mary's General Hospital
Located in the heart of Kitchener, Ontario, St. Mary’s is an adult acute-care hospital and Regional Cardiac Care Centre. Serving Waterloo Region, Wellington County and beyond, St. Mary’s has an established reputation for providing quality, compassionate and innovative care. The hospital’s cardiac team provides more than 4,800 cardiac catheterizations, 825 cardiac surgeries and 425 pacemaker insertions every year. St. Mary’s patient-centred approach to care is augmented by a strong and dedicated team of more than 325 volunteers who contribute nearly 40,000 hours of service a year in 100 unique roles and programs.
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St. Mary's General Hospital Foundation

Medical Centre 2
435 The Boardwalk, Suite 300
Waterloo, ON, N2T 0C2


Charitable Registration No. 119189017RR0001


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