Hospital foundation in Comox Valley hopes donations will resume

Every spring for the past few years, the St. Joseph's General Hospital Foundation has sent out a spring mailing appealing for donations to help purchase new equipment for the hospital.

It is a major fundraiser, but this spring, the campaign hit a bit of a snag when postal workers were locked out and donations stopped coming in.

"It is our second biggest fundraising initiative after Christmas, so we really rely on this for our equipment list," said Lynn Dashkewytch, executive director of the SJGHF.

Each year, the foundation receives a wish list from the hospital with $1 million in equipment needs to help meet the most urgent requirements for the forthcoming year.

"(People's) donations help us work through this equipment list so the equipment's there when they need it," said Dashkewytch.

The spring mailing usually raises about $75,000 for the SJGHF, and the foundation set that as its goal for 2011.

"We were doing really well in May until the mail lockout," said Dashkewytch.

Dashkewytch is encouraging anyone who hasn't responded to the spring mailing campaign to do so, and she also encourages people to donate online at

"The equipment goes to all departments, so it helps the young and old," she said. "All departments benefit from the equipment campaign we do in the spring."

Some equipment at St. Joseph's is getting to the end of its life and needs to be replaced, while some of the equipment needs arise because parts aren't available anymore or because there is new technology, she noted.

Dashkewytch hopes people will consider monthly giving.

More than 200 St. Joseph's staff members contribute to a monthly lottery, and that raises $55,000 a year for the foundation.

"If we had 200 members of the community even provide $5 to $10 a month, it would make a significant difference in the equipment we could provide," said Dashkewytch.

This past year, the foundation transferred more than $400,000 to the hospital.

While a site has been chosen for a new hospital, and planning is underway, St. Joseph's still has at least five years to maintain its current services, according to the foundation's spring newsletter.

"Along with those services, there is a need to continue to enhance and update equipment as needed in order to meet the demands of our growing population," it stated. "It is also very important for citizens of the Comox Valley to understand that the new hospital will not be St. Joseph's. When the new hospital is completed, St. Joseph's will continue to offer services to the public with new and different areas of emphasis to serve community needs in its own realm."

As its stands and from information available to date, St. Joseph's will most likely specialize in complex care, hospice/ palliative care, and primary care, explained the newsletter.

Any equipment the SJGHF purchases can be transferred to the new hospital when it is no longer needed at St. Joseph's, pointed out Dashkewytch.

Last year, St. Joseph's delivered 636 babies, had 8,409 operating room cases, 1,408,542 diagnostic tests and 24,486 emergency room visits.

The hospital doesn't expect to slow down anytime soon, as the population continues to grow.

In 2010, the North Island had a population of 121,045, and the population is forecast to increase to 149,661 by 2030, according to the newsletter.

"We really need the help of the community to meet the health needs of an increasing population and aging population," said Dashkewytch.

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