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Seeking more money for health care



Health care foundation starts new fund-raising initiative

New fund-raising initiatives and plans for the sharing of health care resources in the Sea to Sky Corridor are among the steps being announced by the Whistler Health Care Foundation in the face of apparent continued capital under funding from the government.

The foundation was originally formed by the Whistler Health Care Centre to run its 1994 fund-raising campaign to build a $750,000 helipad facility next to the medical centre. It has subsequently managed the distribution of the $1 million raised.

However the new chair of the foundation, Marnie Simon, says it’s time to get back into the money-raising mode.

"For the volume of people we have coming through the centre the current facilities are not adequate," she says. "There is a very large shortfall in basic trauma and diagnostic equipment, particularly in radiology."

Part of the problem has been the government’s criteria for health care funding, which sees Whistler’s share of the funding pie based on its permanent population rather than its seasonal needs. Simon says this discrepancy means Whistler is funded for a 10,000-resident base rather than the 30,000 population it can reach during the peak ski season. And the nature of activities at the resort naturally leads to high volume of trauma traffic, she adds.

"We treat an incredible amount of wrist and ankle fractures from the snowboarders for example, and need a portable X-ray machine so fractures can be set using X-ray. This equipment alone would cost $100,000." Other examples of the capital equipment needed include an additional $100,000 X-ray machine for the trauma room so spinal patients don’t have to be transferred off a stretcher and new radiology equipment, she adds.

Simon says the foundation’s new board of directors and its predecessors have been lobbying the government to change Whistler’s funding designation. But she says even with the introduction of the new Liberal government there are no clear signs this will change in the near future, so the board is taking matters into its own hands.

"We have been through a strategic planning process and are looking at a number of small fund-raising events," she explains. "Shortly we will release a brochure with a donor envelope attached, that describes what the foundation does as a first step to establishing a donor base. Developing a Web site to facilitate online donations is another possibility."

Grants will also be sought from various community, provincial and federal government funding bodies, she adds.

Fund-raising and improving efficiencies is a reality that the Squamish Health Care Foundation Society and the Pemberton & District Heath Care Foundation are also facing. Tomorrow (Saturday June 23) the two bodies will meet with the Whistler Health Care Foundation at the Whistler Conference Centre to discuss how to best collaborate on health care services in the corridor. Simon says it’s a first for the region.

"The three communities have been fairly isolated in their health care management but now we want to work together by collaborating and sharing information." She says an $8,000 grant from InVOLve BC will pay for this workshop and a follow-up meeting in the fall, as well as a professional facilitator to run the events. InVOLve BC is an iniatitve launched last year by the Ministry of Community Development, Cooperative and Volunteers to support the volunteer sector in creating services and opportunities that enrich the lives of British Columbians.

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