Hospital equipment is expensive. And just like the familiar saying goes, ‘It takes a village to raise a child,’ it also takes a village to raise money for a new state-of-the-art defibrillator.
Case in point took place at Shelter Restaurant on April 22 as over 120 locals donned philanthropic party hats to support the second annual Tofino Hospital Foundation Fundraiser.
The event raised about $58,000.
“The community support is unbelievable. It just blows me away,” said Tofino Hospital Foundation (THF) chair Arlene McGinnis. “It was as good or better than last year and I can’t say enough about Shelter.”
For the second year in a row, Shelter hosted the event, providing all the food, drinks, and wait staff for free. Long Beach Lodge also upped their ante this year by doubling their contribution to the charity from $5,000 to $10,000. The live and silent auction was tremendous success, garnering over $30,000. Most West Coast businesses provided items, and many fetched well over their retail value as the night went on. Tofino councillor Duncan McMaster personally baked a decadent chocolate cake for the silent auction that one lucky bider took home for $55.
“It was one great big party,” said McGinnis. “Shelter will host it again next year.”
Over the last eight years, the Tofino Hospital Foundation (THF) has raised over $350,000 for new hospital equipment.
“I started working at the hospital 40 years ago and have seen working there over the years how a small community like us that we need so many supplies,” said TFH member Phyllis Banks.
“Quite often we get all the hand-me-downs. With our help, our doctors and nurses are getting equipment that they ask for. It’s such a good cause,” she said.
For 2016, the THF was fundraising for a LifePak 15 defibrillator valued at $25,000 and two new heart rate monitors. Past contributions include a portable ultrasound, a hydraulic tub lift and chair, a new bedside heart monitor, and infant weigh scales.
Former medical lab technician and member of the THF Judy Michaud said they have the ultimate goal of building a new hospital on the West Coast.
“We were slated in 1995 for a brand new hospital. Plans were drawn up, it was going to happen, but it got tabled and here we sit. It’s now 2016 and nothing is happening. As you know, we do not even have a helipad. It was decommissioned by department of transport and we still are on the merry go round with Vancouver Island Health Authority to how that is ever going to happen,” Michaud said.
“We want a brand new hospital,” said Banks. “Our plumbing is going, the wiring is going…”
The current Tofino General Hospital was built in 1955. In 2007 the obstetrics program closed, meaning local mothers have no choice but to give birth in hospitals outside their hometown.
While building a new hospital in Tofino will be no cakewalk, the THF is confident they have the right lady at the helm of their benevolent operation.
“Arlene is a tireless leader,” said Michaud. “She just goes. When the rest of us are like, We’re good, we’ve raised money, Arlene says no, it’s not enough. She gets gold marks for keeping us going.”