Gala event kicks off $1-million campaign

Each story was different, but the message was the same: it’s sometimes hard to appreciate what we’ve got until we really need it.

Members of IQ

Members of IQ

Each story was different, but the message was the same: it’s sometimes hard to appreciate what we’ve got until we really need it.

The stories were told by patients and their families, people who have experienced the level of health care available in Stettler first hand. For some, it made the difference between life and death.

“Without a doubt, I’m here tonight because of the Stettler hospital and staff,” said Robert “Buzz” Andersen, who received emergency care after suffering a heart attack.

Krista Dryden, who was taken to hospital after suffering a gunshot wound in May 2012, shared her memories of the ordeal, saying, “Thank God we have the services we do in Stettler.”

The stories served to illustrate why a crowd of close to 200 had gathered for a gala event at the Stettler Community Hall on Saturday, Oct. 25.

The evening served as the launch for “An Affair for the Heart,” a $1-million campaign led by the Stettler Health Services Foundation (SHSF) to fund capital renovations and expansion of local health facilities.

The foundation’s chair, Leona Thorogood, told the crowd that, aside from the dialysis unit, the Stettler Hospital and Care Centre hasn’t seen any major physical improvements in three decades.

“We pass by those walls, thinking, all must be well, someone must be taking care of it,” said Thorogood, adding that as the province struggles to meet demand in urban centres, rural health facilities are often overlooked.

To maintain and improve those facilities, she said, communities need to be proactive, and the foundation is taking the lead with its new campaign.

Reeve Wayne Nixon of the County of Stettler, who said grace for the meal, commended the SHSF for its efforts to advocate on the region’s behalf.

The formal evening included a catered meal and live music provided by IQ, a four-piece a cappella group from Innisfail, as well as guest speaker Angus Watt, who offered messages of encouragement while telling the crowd to “be generous and have fun.”

A wine and liquor tasting station was offered. Several prizes were raffled off while other donated items were auctioned off at the evening’s end by Crowfoot MP Kevin Sorenson.

“I was absolutely grateful and thankful for all for all of the people that showed up there, and for their generosity,” said Thorogood this week. “All of that really surprised me.”

The 18-month fundraising campaign has five major goals: redevelopment of operating rooms; redesign of labour and delivery suites; emergency department expansion; lab and diagnostic imaging expansion; and a geriatric monitoring system.

Thorogood said the foundation intends to carry out these goals in an orderly fashion, and without interrupting the services provided at the facility. Some of the work is already underway, including the ordering of new operating room lights and equipment.

Several donations were added to the tally in the course of the evening, and by the end it had reached more than $421,000, not including auction proceeds.

Warren Aspenes shared the story of how his church, St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, raised the funds for its recent renovation by encouraging members to commit to regular giving.

He indicated that if just over 330 people pledged $100 per month, the campaign could easily reach its goal within the target of 18 months. Aspenes said it was within the reach of an “industrious and resilient community.”

Attendees heard from several former patients and their families, including Deep Singh and nurse Shawna Jenkins, both of whom underwent emergency C-sections after developing complications during pregnancy.

Donna Hoopfer told the audience of the care and consideration given to her brother with special needs, saying that doctors and staff “bent over backwards to make sure that Brian was always comfortable, and that we, his siblings, wanted for naught.”

“We need to do everything that we can do as a community,” she said, “to supply these people with the infrastructure upgrades, equipment and resources that they need to do the job that they want to do for us.”

For more information, visit www.stettlerhealthfoundation.com.