Special to the St. Marys Journal Argus
There were two audible gasps from the crowd assembled in the Wellness Centre at last week’s launch of the St. Marys Memorial Hospital Foundation’s capital campaign launch.
The first gasp was in response to the campaign’s goal of $5 million. The second was heard when the amount raised so far — $1.9 million — was revealed.
It was a night of introductions for the hospital foundation. First, the campaign’s theme of “Someone I Know” was revealed via a short video featuring two local families — the Benders and the Littles — who have benefitted from St. Marys Memorial. The video also featured a youngster, Brier Frayne, who, with the help of friend Simon Greig, operated a lemonade stand this past summer, and donated the proceeds to the hospital foundation.
The second introduction was of the foundation’s fundraising coordinator, Krista Linklater, who further explained the theme — and the importance of supporting the cause. “The care provided at St. Marys Memorial Hospital has touched the lives of our entire community,” she explained. “Certainly someone you know; maybe someone close. Perhaps even you.”
The simple slogan resonated with the chairs of the boards from Tradition Mutual Insurance and Quadro Communications, the two marquee donors. Jill Taylor of Tradition and Cindy Bilyea of Quadro both noted how the slogan reflected their respective business models and customer bases — and how St. Marys Memorial Hospital is staffed by and served by “someone I know.”
As such, Tradition Mutual donated $750,000, which will allow for naming rights to the Wellness Centre. Quadro donated $500,000, which will allow for naming rights for the Emergency Department. Other private donors, including the members of the foundation board, have already pledged donations.
The $5 million goal — called “ambitious” by Linklater — is for upgrades at the hospital and the foundation-owned Wellness Centre. The funds will go to purchase new equipment and refresh hospital facilities, as well as pay off the new digital x-ray machine and nurses’ station, and the updates to the Emergency Department.
The Wellness Centre, which houses family physicians as well as allied practitioners, will also be revitalized and refreshed, so that it will continue to be able to attract new family doctors in the future and be able to better serve all patients.
Both the hospital and the Wellness Centre will also benefit with upgrades to healthcare technology and computer systems, to integrate and streamline care.
The overarching reason for the capital campaign, hospital foundation chair Doug Holliday noted in his speech, is “the more we can do to improve our facilities, the more we strengthen grassroots healthcare in our community.”
“The foundation’s mandate is to enable our healthcare professionals by providing the best facilities, the best tools, the best equipment and the best technology we can afford. By doing this, we strengthen our position,” he added.
Holliday also noted the other community groups that work to support and strengthen our hospital, from the Auxiliary to the Local Advisory Committee to the Community Action Group. “We all want the same thing,” he explained. “We just follow different approaches.”
The final introduction of the evening was the campaign’s honourary chairs, Cathy and Rob Taylor. In their speech, Rob asked the assembled crowd “to think back to when a similar group stood on this same plot of land and decided to build our hospital. I am so encouraged by their foresight and willingness to say ‘we can do it’ – and here we are, doing it again!”
Rob Taylor also acknowledged the evolution of healthcare. “It is always changing, and that is what makes it so exciting to be a part of. It will always be full of passion and debate. We cannot stand still — it is our future.”
He added that “what doesn’t change is the fact that we have to continue to modernize and expand our facilities. Our grandparents and parents got us this far, are we are going to lead our community forward for the next generation.”
Mayor Al Strathdee affirmed all these needs in his remarks, adding another. “This hospital was built as a memorial — hence the name — to those who served our country. It is our duty to preserve this memorial for them.”
The event was attended by representatives from St. Marys Town Council and surrounding municipalities, local business leaders and many interested citizens.
The hospital foundation is now looking for volunteers to help meet its goal. A volunteer information night will soon be scheduled and publicized. The evening also included the re-launch of the foundation’s website, now under the address www.someoneiknow.ca , featuring the promotional video and more information on the campaign and foundation.