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Health care centre foundation turns to fundraising after million-dollar donation falls through



Whistler’s health care system suffered a major setback this summer when the $1 million dollar donation from the Nita Lake Lodge development was forced from the table, according to the chair of the Whistler Health Care Foundation.

"If we’d got the Nita Lake money we really would have been well down that road of getting Teleradiology," said a disappointed Marnie Simon.

"It’s absolutely vital. We should have it now. It’s ridiculous that we don’t even have it now."

Without the donation, the foundation will now have to embark on a major fundraising campaign for the roughly $1.5 million digital system.

Simon said the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, which oversees health care in the Sea to Sky corridor, has approved the Teleradiology equipment in the budget and the operating funds for it, but will not provide the capital for it.

"It’s a big thing if we have to raise all that money," said Simon, who remembers that it took a whole year to raise $100,000 for the last big piece of equipment at the health care centre, the C-Arm.

The $1 million was removed from the Nita Lake development after the donation was challenged as an "unrelated amenity," which should not be a part of the hotel/train station land deal.

Keith Lambert, who threatened the municipality with a lawsuit in May, said he never wanted to deprive the community of upgraded x-ray equipment.

"It’s not that we want to do the community out of those benefits," he said in an earlier interview with Pique Newsmagazine .

Instead he wanted the municipality to reconsider the size and scope of the project, slated to go at the end of Lake Placid Road on the south shores of Nita Lake.

Though no writ was ever filed, as a precaution the municipality completely removed the health care donation from the project.

Just over half of the Nita Lake Lodge donation would have gone directly into Teleradiology equipment, which would revolutionize the x-ray system at the Whistler Health Care Centre.

Instead of using chemicals to develop x-ray film, Teleradiology makes the whole system digital, so health care staff can read x-rays on the computer and send images to other sites linked to the system. In this way doctors at different sites can confer about a patient with the information on computer screens rather than describing the injury over the telephone.

The ultimate goal is to link the health centres in the corridor through this digital system.

"We need it for Whistler, Pemberton and Squamish ASAP because the x-ray equipment is wearing out," said Dr. Bruce Mohr, chief of staff at the Whistler Health Care Centre.