Shortly after moving to the resort last December, David Goudge had a bit of a run-in with a knife he had just purchased.
“I decided to try and cut my finger off,” he says jokingly. “It was a brand-new knife and insanely sharp, so that was my first encounter with the Whistler emergency clinic, and they were awesome. From the receptionist to the nurses to the doctor, everyone was just remarkably good at what they were doing. I’m just so grateful they’re here.”
It was that relatively routine procedure that planted a seed in Goudge that would eventually lead to his family’s foundation donating to the Whistler Health Care Foundation (WHCF) for its new grant-funding program. With the $50,000 in seed funding from the Goudge Family Foundation, the WHCF is now looking to award grants worth up to $10,000 each for healthcare-related projects and initiatives benefitting the Sea to Sky.
“Historically, the foundation was started to really support the [Whistler] Health Care Centre, but a few years ago we widened that mandate to support everything in the corridor,” explained Carol Leacy, board chair of the WHCF. “But we realized that a lot of our funding still goes through Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH), to the hospital and whatnot, so we know we are able to support more than that but nobody has really applied. So we thought, ‘Why don’t we create this program and proactively reach out to the community?’”
Grant eligibility goes beyond what most would consider traditional healthcare initiatives, Leacy noted.
“So things like, say, [Whistler] Search and Rescue, which needed a defibrillator. That’s totally within our funding mandate, but we really haven’t had people like that reach out to us before. With mental health initiatives and counselling programs, for example, they might be looking for funding, but may not think of us.”
All Sea to Sky non-profit groups with healthcare-related initiatives are encouraged to apply. The application window opens Dec. 1, with the deadline set for Jan. 15, 2022. Application forms and additional information on the program are available at whistlerhealthcarefoundation.org.
Established in 1994, the WHCF is a non-profit that has raised more than $4 million and founded more than 26 different projects in that time, including hitting a $1.5-million fundraising target for the long-awaited upgrade to the Whistler Health Care Centre’s trauma room.
More recently, the foundation has set its sights on its most ambitious project to date: a community-led, non-profit primary care centre aimed at improving physician accessibility in the resort and offering a more holistic care model that would include general practitioners, nurse practitioners, counsellors, and a range of other healthcare professionals under one roof.
The vision for the centre would see it either co-located inside the existing Whistler Health Care Centre, a renovated centre, or as a standalone facility close by, making use of existing lab and imaging services and easily accessible from the village.
Currently, the Whistler 360 Collaborative Health Society formed to manage the centre is seeking charitable status to enable it to apply for grant funding. In the meantime, Leacy said discussions are ongoing with VCH and B.C.’s health ministry to bring additional nurse practitioners and social workers to the community.
The WHCF is also overseeing the recently launched Rob Burgess Primary Care Fund, named in honour of the long-time local physician, chief medical officer and Whistler Medical Clinic co-founder who died in September after a short battle with cancer. The fund is dedicated to supporting primary care initiatives in the corridor.
Leacy said the fund has received a tremendous response since Burgess’ passing two-and-a-half months ago.
“I don’t know the exact numbers but we’ve had multiple larger donations, which has been fantastic. We’re looking forward to that being a good seed fund to get some primary care initiatives for the future,” she said.