Wednesday, 24 April 2013 09:39

Foundation reports on efforts to support healthcare in southwest Saskatchewan

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Cypress Regional Hospital Radiologist Dr. Alaba Ojo was the guest speaker at the Dr. Noble Irwin Regional Healthcare Foundation annual general meeting on April 18. He highlighted the benefits of higher image quality that will be provided by a new CT scanner for the radiology service at the hospital. Cypress Regional Hospital Radiologist Dr. Alaba Ojo was the guest speaker at the Dr. Noble Irwin Regional Healthcare Foundation annual general meeting on April 18. He highlighted the benefits of higher image quality that will be provided by a new CT scanner for the radiology service at the hospital. Matthew Liebenberg/Prairie Post

The fundraising efforts of the Dr. Noble Irwin Regional Healthcare Foundation during 2012 generated over $2 million that will be used to support healthcare provision in southwest Saskatchewan.

 

The Foundation's activities over the past year were highlighted at its 14th annual general meeting that took place at the Cypress Regional Hospital on April 18.

Executive Director Clay Thompson said the Foundation contributed or committed a total of $1.4 million towards various healthcare needs in 2012.

“There's a wide variety of healthcare needs that we tried to fill in 2012 but I can assure you that each one of them was filled with the idea that we' were trying to improve the quality and availability of healthcare,” he emphasized.

The Foundation benefitted from a number of large gifts over the past year. A bequest from the estate of Jesse Alberta Grant was used to support the construction of a covered walkway at the Cypress Regional Hospital.

A gift of $1 million from the Orange Benevolent Society of Saskatchewan (OBS) was one of the largest single contributions ever to the Foundation.

“We funded a number of purchases throughout the health region in an attempt to honour their mandate, which was to meet the needs of youth and children in the early years and later they also tried to help out seniors as much as they could,” he said.

According to Thompson the Foundation's fundraising efforts are still needed, because the Cypress Health Region's list of capital requirements amount to just over $4 million.

“I think it's reasonably safe to say if we're counting on Ministry funding to be available for some of those items on that capital list, it's not likely going to happen,” he added. “So it certainly means the community has to band together and keep working because if we ever hope to maintain and improve the quality and availability of healthcare we'll have to work together to make that happen.”

He said it is still a concern and somewhat discouraging that the public does not appear to understand what the Healthcare Foundation is all about.

“The reason might be a lot of what we do is sort of behind the scenes,” he noted.

He highlighted various initiatives by the Foundation during 2012 that helped to improve health care provision. These include funding support for acute care hospital beds ($64,890), low air pressure relief mattresses ($52,364), simulation training mannequins ($114,516) and a digital computed radiology unit ($61,668).

“I admit that I have some frustration but I'm also really proud to say today that some 1,600 individuals and businesses did support the Foundation in 2012,” he said. “”I thank them all for making it possible to assist our partners toward healthcare excellence to the tune of $1.4 million.”

The 4th annual RadioThon generated over $150,000 in financial contributions that will be used to support the upgrade of the Cypress Regional Hospital’s cardiac monitoring equipment. Funds raised from the local Greek Orthodox community's 13th annual Night out in Greece will be used to purchase diagnostic equipment and hospital beds.

A highlight of this year's annual general meeting was the announcement that the estate of Simmie area farmer Roy Blanchard has left a gift of $1.2 million to the Foundation.

Blanchard's sister Joan Spetz, her son Neil and estate representative Georgia Bratvold were present for the announcement. Funds from this bequest will be used to purchase a new CT scanner for the Cypress Regional Hospital.

The total cost of a new CT scanner will be $1.6 million and raising the remaining $400,000 will be a key focus of the Foundation's activities during 2013.

“Now that's not to say there won't be other things done as a matter of course, but the bulk of our fundraising campaign this year will be for the CT scanner,” Thompson said.

The two guest speakers at the annual general meeting provided some details about the new CT scanner for the hospital.

Cypress Health Region Director of Diagnostic Services Terry Coulter said the present scanner  was acquired in October 2004 and it has done over 30,000 scans. The intention is to have the new scanner installed in May and to have it up and running in June.

Radiologist Dr. Alaba Ojo, who is the head of the department of medical imaging at Cypress Regional Hospital, referred to the benefits of the new scanner. It is the most advanced scanner available and will produce detailed pictures of any organ in a few seconds.

“Its advantages is the rapid and high resolution imaging of the entire body within seconds, which is a benefit especially in the management of acute care, acutely ill patients, children and trauma patients,” he said.

The non-invasive imaging of blood vessels of the heart is another major advantage that enables speedy diagnosis of heart disease.

Board Chair Karen Schaitel presented the board report. She thanked the dedicated group of volunteers who serve as the board of directors.

She expressed her appreciation towards the outgoing board members – Bill Redekop, Etiennette Binette, David Parenteau, Shannon Hanna and Carol Hansvall.

Schaitel also welcomed the newest board members, Ron Mathies and Trudy Jewitt, who joined the board in 2012. The meeting elected one new board member, Val Hartley from Maple Creek.

 

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Matthew Liebenberg

Reporter/Photographer

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