(Contributed by the Ontario Mining Association)
TORONTO – Ontario Mining Association member Barrick Gold and the family of the late Greg Wilkins, former company president, have donated $5.5 million to advance global health. Toronto General and Western Hospital Foundation will be using this gift to combat brain diseases and improve medical training for surgeons and nurses in developing countries.
Wilkins was president and CEO at Barrick from 2003 to 2008. He started with the company in 1981 and helped transform it into the world’s largest gold producer. Wilkins held an executive position with another corporation for several years in the late 1990s up until 2003. He passed away in December 2009 at the age of 53 after losing his battle with cancer.
The donation, which was first announced earlier this year, has several components. They include the Greg Wilkins Chair in International Surgery, which will oversee research and training for doctors and nurses in developing countries. Dr. Mark Bernstein, a neurosurgeon at Toronto Western Hospital, who performed brain surgery on Wilkins as part of his care team, was appointed to this position last week. Dr. Bernstein has described Wilkins as “extremely courageous.” Toronto Western Hospital is a world leader in the treatment of and research on diseases of the brain and spinal cord.
The donation also involves the Greg Wilkins-Barrick Fellowship, which will enable a neurosurgeon from a developing country to train at Toronto Western Hospital; the Barrick Gold Corporation Centre for International Outreach, which will provide training for nurses and health care workers in developing areas of the world; and the Gregory C. Wilkins Centre for Excellence in Neuro-Oncology.
“Greg was an outstanding CEO whose entrepreneurial spirit and strategic vision cemented Barrick’s position as the gold industry leader and he shaped Barrick’s values, which reflected his unwavering commitment to corporate social responsibility,” said Aaron Regent, Barrick president and CEO. “These medical programs are a fitting tribute to Greg, who supported significant company investments in health care that helped many people around the world. Along with the Wilkins family, we are proud to make this gift a part of Greg’s impressive legacy.”
“We are very excited to be able to make such a positive impact in communities that are struggling to care for patients with neurological conditions,” said Bernstein. “I have seen first hand the great need for neurosurgery in developing countries but with more properly trained surgeons and nurses who can provide the highly specialized care necessary, patients in these communities can hope to have better health outcomes.”