Robert Carsley’s involvement with the Jewish General Hospital Foundation began with his participation in its popular fundraising golf tournament and, as he learned more about the work of the hospital, it grew.

“Over time, I started to understand more about how our system works,” says the 62-year-old native Montrealer.

He learned, for instance, that, just as government support is crucial to the hospital, so is support from the community.

Says Betty Elkaim, Vice-President, Development of the JGH Foundation: “The government gives us the basics, but innovation needs donors. To be cutting edge, the hospital needs support.”

And Robert Carsley is among those providing that support.

He underwrote the majority of the cost of a new PET (positron emission tomography) scanner for the hospital, for instance, and gamma cameras used in The Lisa & Robert Carsley Nuclear Imaging Centre. Both are important adjunct tools used in the follow-up management of patients in whom cancer has been diagnosed.

He made a significant donation towards the hospital’s newest da Vinci robots – an advanced robotic platform designed to expand the surgeon’s capabilities and provide an option to traditional, open, surgery.

And he has helped to support Philippa’s Garden of Life / Jardin de vie in the outdoor space near the family waiting room of the Marvin & Robert Carsley Families Perioperative Unit in Pavilion K intended as a thank you to the hospital’s healthcare workers and a project in support of the hospital’s Digital Health Initiative.

Mr. Carsley says he learned a great deal about philanthropy from his father.

“My dad has always been very generous,” he says. “He has taken on projects in various institutions, and I have seen the impact that has had.”

Mr. Carsley’s parents and his wife have all faced health challenges. The family supports centres including the Montreal Heart Institute and the Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM) – but it was after his father was treated at the Jewish General for thyroid cancer four years ago that Robert became more involved with the JGH.

“Robert is very humble,” says Ms. Elkaim. “He’ll say, ‘If it helps the hospital, and raises awareness and inspires and motivates people, then fine.’”

For years, Mr. Carsley’s family owned Carsilco, a large importer of fabrics for dress manufacturers. The business closed in 2003, and the family recently sold 555 Chabanel St., which was for decades the heart of the garment industry.

These days, Mr. Carsley keeps busy with family investments, his family’s philanthropy and with the Elm Ridge Country Club, where he served as president and remains on the board. In addition to being an enthusiastic golfer, he is an avid cyclist.

He and his wife have two daughters – one in New York City, where she has worked in publishing and as a literary agent and one who is a professor of law at the University of Ottawa.

Ms. Elkaim says she likes to use the word innovation in connection with the hospital “because it is a reality at the Jewish General.”

Evidence of that innovation can be found in the hospital’s new Emergency Department, the largest and most sophisticated such department in the province.

It is found, too, in the hospital’s Command Centre, a hub which makes it possible for staff to monitor and analyze patient flow and transfers within the entire health authority to which the hospital belongs: the CIUSSS Centre-Ouest-de-l’île-de-Montréal.

The CIUSSS is made up of 34 healthcare facilities and services, including the JGH, five long-term care centres and three rehabilitation hospitals.

And if innovation is proceeding at the hospital the way it is, “it is because of donors like Robert,” says Ms. Elkaim. “He wants to transform the way in which care is given.”

Says Mr. Carsley: “I guess you are either charitable or you are not: You have to decide. From my point of view, I say that if we can make the hospital a better place, I believe we should.”

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