For Immediate Release:

RCHS New CEO Press Release

The Board of Directors of Rideau Community Health Services (RCHS) is pleased to announce Michele Bellows as the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the organization. For the full press release, please click here.


Movies Under The Stars Founders Recognized

Smiths Falls area women bring joy to thousands


By Peter McKenna

SMITHS FALLS, June 6, 2018 - Since 2010, a small group of area women have offered dozens of movie viewings, to children and their families, outside under the stars. Movies Under the Stars is one of the many events organized by Together Smiths Falls (TSF) - A Community Enhancement Association, which aims to enhance the quality of life in Smiths Falls. The women behind this initiative are being publically thanked and recognized at the June 26th Annual General Meeting of Rideau Community Health Services (RCHS) to take place at 5:30pm at the Smiths Falls Memorial Community Centre.

RCHS has delivered health and social services to area residents since 1974 and believes that an engaged community is a healthier community. Ten years ago, RCHS created the Community Service Award to recognize groups and individuals who help make a community a better place to live. Together Smiths Falls’ current Board of Directors Tracey Pankow, Susan Richards, Heather Currie-Whiting, Norah Elliott & Nicola Thomson will be acknowledged at the meeting. “We are grateful of the recognition and want everyone to know that the movies, music and lights in the park could not take place without business, community and charitable partners and dozens of committed volunteers” said Tracey Pankow.

Together Smiths Falls also organizes annual events such as Music in the Park, and the Celebration of Lights where dozens of partners kick off November by turning thousands of Christmas lights into something magical. The group has plans to continue to offer new events and want to highlight that all events are free and inclusive.

The five women did not initially know each other and met via Facebook after chatting about the local cinema closing. One thing led to another and in a remarkable four months Movies Under the Stars was launched. With a community grant from Great West Life the women were off and running. “We knew we had a hit on our hands when 500 people showed up for the very first movie” said Susan Richards. The women have never looked back and the group continues to evolve, as original members have moved on, others have joined. Everyone who has attended a movie, enjoyed the music or viewed the lights is welcome to attend the award presentation on June 26th and show your appreciation to this group of dynamic community builders.

About Rideau Community Health Services:

Rideau Community Health Services is a fully accredited Community Health Centre. As a community-governed organization within Ontario's health and social service system, we engage individuals and communities to improve health and wellbeing. Funding for Rideau Community Health Services has been provided by the South East Local Health Integration Network (LHIN). RCHS is also supported by the Ministry of Community and Social Services and by the communities and people we serve. For more information visit

About Together Smiths Falls:

Together Smiths Falls is focused on creating a better community through events and projects that will enhance the quality of life in Smiths Falls, encourage community involvement and volunteerism in collaboration with local businesses, not for profit and charitable organizations. Together we CAN make a difference. The group organizes family-friendly events for all residents of Smiths Falls and area; provides fundraising opportunities for local charities and not for profit groups; encourages community involvement and volunteerism; sponsors projects that will enhance our community; and attracts tourism and promote growth. For upcoming events, visit or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

For more information:

Peter McKenna, Executive Director

Rideau Community Health Services

Tel: 613-269-4743

Cell: 613-859-4798

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

PDF version of this Press Release



Residential Hospice Proposed for Lanark-Leeds-Grenville

First public information meeting for proposed community owned, four-bed Rideau Tay
Residential Hospice. February 14th, 1:00-3:30 p.m., Camp Merrywood Lodge, Port Elmsley

February 1, 2018, Smiths Falls/Merrickville--- A consortium of health and social services
agencies and interested citizens is responding to public input on local palliative care and end-oflife
care services by proposing the creation of a new, purpose-built residential hospice.

The patient and family centered hospice would be the first residential hospice in Lanark, Leeds
and Grenville, with plans to open by 2020 in Smiths Falls. If approved the residential hospice
would serve residents of Drummond North Elmsley, Merrickville Wolford, Montague, Perth,
Rideau Lakes, Smiths Falls, and Tay Valley.

“This proposal is in response to a strong grass roots movement in our community,” says Peter
McKenna, Executive Director of Rideau Community Health Services (RCHS), which is leading
the proposal. “As more and more of us consider what a good death means, a residential hospice
offers an important new choice in where and how we die.”

In Ontario, residential hospices provide a home-like environment with comfortable space for the
patient, family members and caregivers, at no fee. The emphasis is on spiritual, emotional, and
psycho-social needs at end-of-life, and a palliative care approach emphasizing comfort, care and
compassion, rather than cure.

“Our proposal is part of a much larger movement of residential hospice growth across Ontario,
and the timing is perfect because the province wants to expand what research and families’
experience is showing is an excellent end-of-life option,” says McKenna, who recently returned
from visiting the Kensington Residential Hospice in downtown Toronto.

He notes that while the province will provide part of the capital costs for construction and
operating expenses, approximately half of the capital and ongoing operating costs will have to be
covered by community fund raising, as with other Ontario residential hospices.

“This is a really exciting opportunity for these communities, and it’s going to take a lot of work,”
says McKenna. “The public information event will be the community’s first chance to ask
questions and begin the process of building the community team of volunteers for fundraising
and program development that will make our community residential hospice a reality.”

The public information event is sponsored by RCHS, the Perth and Smiths Falls District
Hospital, Community Home Support Lanark County, and the South East Regional Palliative
Care Network.

Contact: Peter McKenna, Executive Director Rideau Community Health Services


For Immediate Release: June 13, 2016
Smiths Falls Physician Honored For Over 40 Years’ Service to Community
Dr. Brian Penney will be publically recognized on Tuesday June 28th by Rideau Community Health Services (RCHS) at their annual general meeting. He is being acknowledged for his care and compassion since opening his practice in Smiths Falls in 1974. Dr. Penney has served thousands of patients within his own practice, in the local hospital and for the past ten years as a physician with the Smiths Falls Community Health Centre, a part of RCHS.
Each year RCHS Board of Directors honours an individual or group for their contributions to the health and well-being of our communities. At the June 28th Annual General Meeting the Board will present Dr Penney with his award. All current and former patients of Dr Penney are encouraged to come out to the celebration. Former colleagues and members of the public are also welcome.
Dr. Penney was trained in England and began practicing medicine in the early 70’s. He ran his own practice for 30 years and joined the Smiths Falls CHC as its first employee in January 2006.
When long time (39 years) patients of Brian’s, Doug and Liz Phillips heard of the celebration they phoned to say “ He has been through births, double births, regular appointments, emergencies, mental health issues, counselling, weddings and the birth of our grandchildren. He is definitely a part of our family in every way and we are blessed that he is!! We value his knowledge, his opinions, his empathy, his listening skills and timely responses but most of all we admire his caring and thoughtful presence and his ability to make each patient feel special to him.”
RCHS Executive Director, Peter McKenna says “I have known Brian for forty years and we are delighted to have him as part of our team. I am also thrilled to confirm that Brian is in great health and that he plans to continue working for the next few years”.
The RCHS Annual General Meeting will be held at the Smiths Falls Memorial Centre and starts promptly at 5.30. After some brief presentations and business matters the meeting will conclude with the award to Dr Penney. Refreshments and socializing will follow. Everyone is welcome and we hope to see you there.

September 27, 2014


Two Rivers Food Hub Sets Targeted Opening Date of Nov. 1

Local growers, processors and buyers will be pleased to learn that the Two Rivers Food Hub (TRFH), located in the Gallipeau Centre in Smiths Falls, will soon be open for business. At a general meeting on Monday, Sept. 22, the TRFH set a target date of Nov. 1 for the opening of the commercial kitchen component of the food hub, moving them one step closer to a fully operational food hub servicing the Lanark Leeds Grenville regions.

A Local Food Hub is a centrally located facility dedicated to coordinating the collection and distribution of locally grown foods to the benefit of both growers and purchasers. One of the main purposes of a food hub is to help recreate the local food  infrastructure that has been lost over the past several decades.

The TRFH, operating under the umbrella of the Rideau Community Health Services, has been in the planning stages for more than a year. The opening of the commercial kitchen component marks the first step towards becoming one of the first local food hubs in Eastern Ontario.

"This will be the first of many significant steps forward for the food hub," Ray Elgersma, TRFH Acting Chair, explained, "With this first crucial piece of the puzzle completed, we can really begin to move closer to bringing local foods to the community."

In addition to a commercial kitchen rental facility, the food hub will also shortly begin operations as a depot for local foods, and a pick up location for restaurants and retail outlets interested in including local foods in their products list. This component of the  TRFH will be developed following the hiring of a general manager who will be key to its implementation.

The incubator kitchen planned for the TRFH will offer assistance to early stage, small scale, food production businesses by reducing the stress of meeting food safety regulations and the high cost of commercial kitchen equipment. Space sharing opportunities are of particular value to new businesses and to existing food production enterprises who wish to scale up their production at a low cost.

The TRFH will eventually include two commercial kitchens renting at an hourly rate of $25 per hour. The opening date of Nov 1st will include the opening of one of these kitchens, comprising approximately 480 square feet and will include all major equipment as well as small equipment for food processing of all kinds.

Storage space will be available to tenants who wish to keep items safely locked within the kitchen, as well as walk in refrigerator and freezer space. A second kitchen and a large area for catering and cooking classes will be opening as the TRFH moves forward with its plans.

As part of the target date of Nov. 1, the committee will also be putting forward a call for parties interested in applying for a contract position of General Manager. The General Manager will be involved in the planning and start-up of the food hub, including developing operations, facility planning, developing and executing a marketing strategy and the launch of the centre.

For more information about the services available at the TRFH, or to subscribe to their newsletter, please visit or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

For a pdf version of this press release, please click here.



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