Guelph hospitals look to community to help fund equipment needs

As the season of giving comes to a close, Guelph’s hospitals don’t want to be forgotten. The Foundation of Guelph General Hospital and St. Joseph’s Health Centre Foundation each have hefty fundraising campaigns going on to make the most of the community’s generosity to help buy some new equipment.

“I don’t think people realize that the government doesn’t fund equipment,” said St. Joe’s foundation development assistant Karen Semma.

Semma noted that the government recently announced funding for nine new temporary beds, and while that funding will ensure sufficient staff for those beds, it does not cover the cost of the beds themselves.

The foundation launched an appeal for donations at the beginning of December with a specific Christmas wish list that includes special adjustable hospital beds that can be raised and lowered to make it easier to transfer patients, provide daily care and reduce the risk of falling.

These beds have a price tag of $2,000 each.

Also on the list are machines that help people breathe, for $1,800 each; $500 palliative care comfort carts that include everything from snacks and drinks, to music players and hygiene products for residents and patients facing their end of life journey; and therapeutic tubs with adjustable height to allow people to bathe in an easier, more relaxed and dignified manner, at a cost of $30,000 each.

“It’s all about giving our patients and residents comfort and dignity and safety,” Semma said.

The wish list was based on four “pillars” of care, she said, listing them as pain management, mobility and independence, safety and security, and dignity and comfort.

Other things that donations help to pay for include things like pain pumps, wound care machines, and patients lifts and sling, she said.

But the foundation chose four main items for its Christmas wish list in an effort to focus on some real tangible needs, Semma said.

“These were our most pressing needs that we picked for our holiday appeal,” she said.

Guelph General Hospital’s fundraising arm has done something similar. The hospital foundation is advertising that it needs support to replace the hospital’s 12-year-old CT scanner.

“It is a pretty vital and critical piece of diagnostic equipment,” said foundation marketing and communications specialist Elizabeth Stewart.

The CT scanner is used not just for scheduled appointments, but also in emergency situations — for example, to assess a patient who comes in with symptoms of a stroke, Stewart said.

According to the foundation’s website, since the scanner was purchased 12 years ago, more than 250,000 scans have been performed at Guelph General.

“It’s been very well used,” said Stewart, but she added that the piece of equipment often breaks down and needs repair, and that can have an impact on patient care.

Also, as with many kinds of equipment technology changes over time.

“Technology plays a greater and greater and greater role in health care,” Stewart said.

When it comes to the CT scanner, newer machines can produce better quality images, expose patients to less radiation, and can perform the work faster, all of which amounts to better care for patients, she said.

The total price tag on a new CT scanner is approximately $1.3 million, and the current fundraising campaign will likely only cover a fraction of that, Stewart said.

“We’ll continue to fund raise throughout 2018 for this particular piece of equipment,” she said.

At the same time, the hospital will have a number of other equipment needs for which the foundation will also attempt to bring in money.

The hospital usually has a wish list that includes around 100 requests, said Stewart, noting that the items on the list can range from small-ticket items, such as storybooks to help children of parents undergoing chemotherapy understand what’s going on, to larger items like ultrasound machines or specialized surgical equipment.

Stewart made the same point as Semma, saying that the government doesn’t fund patient care equipment.

“The tools that we actually put into the hands of our health care team, it’s the donors that are doing that,” Stewart said. “We are hoping that our community will continue to be generous.”

Donations to the Guelph General Hospital can be made by visiting gghfoundation.ca or calling the foundation at 519-837-6422.Donations for St. Joe’s can be made online at www.sjhcg.ca or by calling the foundation office at 519-767-3424.

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