Healthcare Foundation celebrates successful 2013 at annual meeting

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There were literally millions of reasons to celebrate a successful 2013 during the Dr. Noble Irwin Regional Healthcare Foundation's annual general meeting this past Thursday.

The Foundation reported another successful year after generating $2.13 million in fund-raising and gifts in kind over the year and making a profound impact on improving the healthcare of Southwest residents.

"Our contributions back to healthcare in the Southwest was just under $2.4 million last year, something we're very, very proud of," explained Clay Thompson, Executive Director of the Dr. Noble Irwin Regional Healthcare Foundation. "We're pretty proud of our accomplishments last year, and we're hoping for as much or more this year and into the future."

While the Foundation's highlight was the installation of a state-of-the-art CT Scanner into the Cypress Regional Hospital, the Foundation also reported putting smaller pieces of equipment from an equipment with list into 10 other facilities across the Southwest. There were also 42 existing and future staff members who took advantage of the Skills Enrichment Scholarship Program offered through the Foundation.

Thompson acknowledged the $1.6 million price tag for the new CT Scanner was nearly completely covered by a $1.2 million gift from the Estate of the late Roy Blanchard.

"It was great news in that we were able to do it," Thompson said. "It might have taken two or three years to raise that money otherwise."

Patients in the Cypress Health Region are reaping the benefits of having access to Saskatchewan's newest CT scanner with the newest technology through that impressive gift.

A series of personal healthcare stories in the Foundation's annual report share how the CT Scanner has been instrumental in important healthcare diagnoses.

"We are charged with gathering funds to improve healthcare. The stories in the annual report are intended to show these are the types of life changes that can actually be made if we can get enough people pulling in the same direction to make those changes happen," he said. "In one story Dr. (Jason) Gatzke talks about how he believes that having the new CT Scanner did save his brother's life."

Thompson hopes the testimonials encourage additional giving while also thanking those who donated in response to their financial requests over the years.

"Those that have contributed and supported the Foundation activities in the past, this is what you've helped to make happen, and to encourage those that haven't maybe taken part in Foundation activities to date and say this is something you might want to give some thought to because look how this particular piece of equipment actually changed this person's life. It may have saved this person's life.

"We help make it possible for the people that do that work to do their jobs that much more effectively."

A special recognition event was part of last week's annual meeting, with the Foundation saluting the efforts of the founding volunteer board members from 1999. A plaque was unveiled to recognize the 1999 board Joan Meyer, Tim Keene, Ted Poppitt, Ron Heeg, Laila Yasmin, Colleen MacBean, Malcolm Banks, John Penner, Dave Parenteau, Sandy Larson, and administrator Lyn Johnston. The plaque is scheduled to be installed at the Cypress Regional Hospital in the near future.

"Those 10 people were visionaries who felt that things could be different if we could just get enough people working together to make it happen they could make a difference," Thompson said. "$12 million has been gathered in 15 years and given back to healthcare. I think they were right. I think that their vision was right. I think the way they put our Foundation together was right. And I'm really proud to be part of it today."

Thompson also highlighted that just as successful as their past has been, their future is just as important.

"As good a year as it was… there's that much more that needs to be done. And every day it grows. It's just a fact of life that equipment ages, it gets used every day, and wears out. There's life expectancy on some of the equipment. And I think the biggest issue in Healthcare is technological advancements," he explained. "The technology in healthcare equipment is growing in leaps and bounds and what was fresh and new and state of the art today is potentially very quickly obsolete."

Organizations: Cypress Regional Hospital, Dr. Noble Irwin Regional Healthcare Foundation

Geographic location: Saskatchewan, Swift Current

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