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Wednesday, 26 April 2017 14:22

Healthcare foundation’s task to become more important under single provincial health authority

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Dr. Noble Irwin Regional Healthcare Foundation Executive Director Clay Thompson speaks at the annual general meeting, April 20. Dr. Noble Irwin Regional Healthcare Foundation Executive Director Clay Thompson speaks at the annual general meeting, April 20.

The efforts of the Dr. Noble Irwin Regional Healthcare Foundation to raise funds to improve the quality of healthcare in southwest Saskatchewan will become even more important during the current transition of health-care services in the province.

That was the message of Healthcare Foundation Executive Director Clay Thompson at the organization’s annual general meeting in Swift Current on April 20.
“I think that we'll be even more relevant as it applies to health care than we were yesterday,” he said.
“As important as I think our job is on an ongoing basis, it might even become a little bit more important as we move forward.”
He noted the foundation’s mandate to gather and disburse funds to improve the quality and availability of health care in southwest Saskatchewan will remain the same.
“So whether we do that in co-operation with the Cypress Health Region ... or whether we do that with a provincial health authority, wherever that might be located, it should make no significant difference to us and what we do,” he said. “Our job was and will always be to gather funds to improve the quality and availability of health care in southwest Saskatchewan.”
The provincial government announced on Jan. 4 that the 12 existing regional health authorities will be consolidated into a single provincial health authority. A transition team was established shortly afterwards and on March 28 the government introduced legislation in the Saskatchewan legislature to create the new authority.
Thompson felt the new authority will not make a significant difference to the ongoing efforts of the foundation to fund the purchase of health-care equipment for health-care facilities in the southwest.
“Certainly I would expect there'll be some procedural changes and probably some additional red tape, that's just kind of the way things work, but basically when a health-care need is identified in the southwest now, our job will be to gather the funds needed to support that need,” he said. “While we’ve had some success with that in the past, I think we may need to work even a little bit harder as we move forward under the new provincial health authority.”
The Dr. Noble Irwin Regional Healthcare Foundation and other similar foundations from around the province recently had a conference call with the provincial health authority transition team. A common message from all these foundations was that they have specific fundraising mandates.
“We work in the southwest Saskatchewan,” he said. “Were not going to gather money to put a new heart monitoring machine in the cardiac centre in Regina or Saskatoon or wherever it deems to be. We’re going to keep our area strong. We don’t want our residents having to drive two hours for what can be done locally. That’s just not right and we’re going to do everything in our power to make sure that that doesn’t happen.”
The creation of a single provincial health authority will likely mean there will be a greater distance between the southwest and the health-care decision makers.
“We may need to take a more active role in ensuring our facilities are ready for quality care, as a provincial authority will be preparing a budget on a provincial basis rather than a regional one,” he said. “Our equipment needs will be pooled with everybody else in the province and somebody is going to have to make a decision on which ones matter the most and are do-able in any particular budget year.”
He added the provincial government’s goal is to do as much as possible with less money, which will have an impact on the health budget.
“They’re trying to reduce their budgets,” he said. “It might suggest that funding for capital equipment is not likely going to go up. So it’s not unreasonable to assume a foundation like ours may be called upon to support capital equipment needs at least to the level that we were doing it yesterday and years in the past. So I think honestly our role in the community becomes even more relevant than maybe it was prior to January 4.”
The Dr. Noble Irwin Regional Healthcare Foundation distributed over $2.8 million in 2016. The largest portion of these funds was used to furnish and equip The Meadows, the new long-term care facility in Swift Current. Funding was also provided for various other needs at different facilities in the Cypress Health Region, for example over $500,000 for new equipment at the Southwest Integrated Healthcare Facility in Maple Creek.
The campaign for The Meadows was the second largest fundraising effort ever undertaken by the foundation. In many instances donors have entered into pledge agreements with commitments to make financial contributions over a number of years. As a result the foundation is facing a challenge to engage the community in new funding campaigns.
“I won’t deny the year has been somewhat slow so far and part of that is what they call donor fatigue,” he said.
Thompson believes the foundation will have to reach out to more people in southwest Saskatchewan to continue to raise funds in a sustainable manner.
“We have to try and cast a bigger net,” he said. “I think there’s enough caring people in the southwest that instead of going back to the same ones year after year we can find some new ones and if we do that it will be fine.”
The foundation will raise funds for a variety of health-care needs during 2017. It will continue to work with a group of volunteers in Leader to gather funds for furnishings and equipment in the town’s new integrated health-care facility.
The Cypress Regional Hospital has various equipment needs, including a second ultrasound machine, birthing beds, and two Holter monitors to measure a heart’s activity.
Funds will be raised to install ceiling lifts at the health facilities in Herbert and Shaunavon, there is an initiative to gather funds for a new handivan in Shaunavon, and additional financial support will make it possible to provide more first responder training.
A special presentation was made at the annual general meeting to recognize Dorlas Bratvold, who has made an annual contribution to the Dr. Noble Irwin Regional Healthcare Foundation since it started in 1999.
Three board members were recognized for serving a maximum term of six years. They are Jahnaya Mann and Dr. Ivo Radevski of Swift Current, and Michelle Weedon of Cabri.
The foundation now has a volunteer board of 11 members after the confirmation of five new directors at the meeting. They are George Cobb, Craig Ekstrand and Marie-Ann MacIsaac of Swift Current, Allen Evesque of Cadillac, and Doreen Schroeder of Herbert.

Read 1435 times Last modified on Wednesday, 26 April 2017 14:27
Matthew Liebenberg