Hospital foundation pushing to raise final $1.2 million for ER

Hospital foundation pushing to raise final $1.2 million for ER at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital.

Meave O’Byrne

Meave O’Byrne

their own, they may not think about the cost of the hospital ventilator filling their lungs with air.

Or someone having a heart attack might not know the defibrillator used to start a heart costs $16,000.

Health-care professionals rely on these pieces of equipment during emergency situations, and for the past three years the Nanaimo and District Hospital Foundation has been working to ensure equipment is there when needed.

Since September 2009, the foundation worked to raise $4 million to purchase equipment for the new emergency department being built at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. The foundation’s self-imposed fundraising deadline ends next year in June, but staff hope to reach the goal sooner.

The generosity of service clubs, charitable organizations, individuals and corporate partners have allowed the foundation to raise $2.8 million in three years.

“It is a tribute to the community in that they realize the importance of supporting health care in our community,” said Maeve O’Byrne, foundation president. “The more we can help the better the tools for the professionals when they need it.”

The foundation is on the final push to raise the remaining $1.2 million. However, the ER isn’t the only funding priority the foundation has worked on during the past three years. It has also raised more than $540,000 for the new renal unit and money for palliative care and breast cancer diagnostic equipment.

Emergency department construction is on schedule for completion next month with the official opening date still being finalized.

The new 65,000 square-foot ER is triple the size of the existing department. The current ER was created to serve 15,000 patients, but served more than 54,000 in 2011.

“It’s the busiest emergency department on Vancouver Island,” said Feron Walker, foundation director of communications.

Anya Nimmon, a Vancouver Island Health Authority spokeswoman, said VIHA is grateful for the foundation’s $4-million commitment to purchase equipment.

“VIHA is proud to partner with the Regional District of Nanaimo and the Nanaimo Hospital Foundation for this incredibly significant project,” said Nimmon in an e-mail. “The foundation, with the help of their donors, has made equipment available throughout the hospital and very soon the latest equipment will be saving lives in the new emergency department.”

The ER’s cost of $36.9 million is shared among the provincial government, Vancouver Island Health Authority, the RDN and hospital foundation.

The foundation has several fundraising events in the works, with opportunities for people to donate.

The annual Golf For Life fundraiser is Sept. 7 at Fairwinds Golf Club. Registration is $200 per golfer and includes 18 holes, a power cart rental, lunch and dinner and a participation gift. People can register online at

The foundation will also start a household mailout campaign this fall, asking for donations. Telus is donating $25 to the hospital foundation for every new Nanaimo customer signing up for Optik TV or activating a smart phone.

For more information and how to donate please go to


Nanaimo Regional General Hospital’s new $36.9 million emergency department is slated to be completed this September.

The department will boost the number of treatment rooms from 24 to 39 and include a psychiatric emergency services unit, and a six-bed psychiatric intensive care unit. Six internal courtyards stretching from the top to bottom floors and daylight wells will increase the natural light in the department.

Then new ER will have individual treatment rooms instead of a curtain separating patients receiving treatment for more privacy, a dedicated X-ray room and a separate entrance for patients and ambulances.

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