The planned trauma room upgrades at the Whistler Health Care Centre recently got a significant boost as the Sea to Sky Regional Hospital District (SSRHD) donated $500,000 to the cause.
The contribution puts fundraising for the $1.5-million upgrade well past the halfway point at $1 million.
Whistler Health Care Foundation (WHCF) chair Sandra Cameron said the donation puts the project in a good place.
“It gets us two-thirds of the way through, so now we’re on the big push to get the last $500 [thousand],” she said. “In the next few months, we should get this.”
To this point, the upgrades had also received $300,000 from the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation while raising another $200,000.
Cameron explained that breaking the seven-figure threshold proved to Vancouver Coastal Health, which is overseeing the project, that it will actually come to fruition. Cameron added that work is expected to begin in the spring.
“It puts us over the top to know that we could actually pull this off,” she said. “Before they break ground and before they get too far down with the project, they want to see that we had the ability to come up with the funds, and with this donation, it definitely puts us into that category.
“The community support is there for the project.”
Cameron said in a presentation to the SSRHD board, the foundation didn’t come forward with a specific ask, requesting only what was feasible on the district’s side. Procuring a half-million donation, she said, was a significant shot in the arm.
“They have supported us in a lot of our big projects, so there was hope that we would get money,” she said. “Five-hundred [thousand dollars] was definitely very generous.”
District chair and Whistler councillor Jen Ford, who also sits on the WHCF board, said that after discussing what the district had socked away in reserves and analyzing projects coming down the line, said the board reached a consensus on the amount.
“Everybody’s stretched in new ways due to COVID, so we didn’t take the decision lightly,” said Ford. “The money is coming out of reserves but it obviously will impact what we’ll have to raise in future years.”
Ford confirmed that the district recently voted to bulk up its reserves through taxes and a rate will be decided during its 2021 budgeting process.
But the need to fund the project was clear, she added, given that the 25-year-old room is only roughly 18 square metres.
“It’s grown very busy for many years and the building itself is not growing,” she said. “With the trauma room, there is a lot more equipment required to give the kind of care, and to evolve the care, that people need when they go into the trauma room. With more equipment and more people in a very small room, something had to change.”
Whistler Health Care Centre medical director Dr. Fern von der Porten explained that the trauma room is where the sickest patients, such as those who have suffered a stroke or have been intubated, are treated.
“At this time, with the pandemic and so much going on in healthcare, this just creates a better place for our staff to treat our patients with the highest level of need,” she said. “It creates a bigger useable area. It modernizes the facility. It makes it so that we have more room to work with the modern equipment that we have.
“It’s not that we can’t give great care now. We do. [But we will be able to] do even better because we’ll have a better working space for it.”
Cameron said to raise the remaining funds, the foundation will apply for grants and appeal to private businesses. As well, a social media campaign will soon launch and a Hike for Health fundraiser is planned for next summer.
“Anything small, even, is so greatly appreciated,” von der Porten said.
For more on the project, visit youtube.com/watch?v=ovQgMH8Yw0U&feature=youtu.be or visit whistlerhealthcarefoundation.org.