COLUMNIST: Kitimat’s hospital foundation explained

Many people are not aware of the work involved in providing healthcare

Health care is critical to our community – we all need access to doctors, health programs, and a well-equipped hospital.

However, it often seems to me that a lot of people are not aware of the efforts made by the medical staff and the dozens of volunteers to ensure everyone receives the best health care possible in Kitimat.

I have been involved with the Kitimat General Hospital Foundation (KGHF) since its inception in 2011. This volunteer organization has been an amazing addition in providing funds for much-needed equipment to not only look after patients, but to retain and attract medical personnel to Kitimat.

The Hospital Auxiliary is made up of dedicated volunteers and has been established for over 60 years, supplying services to the seniors in long term care as well as raising funds for equipment.

Another volunteer group, the Kitimat Health Advocacy Group, provides assistance with training dollars and living expenses to attract new medical personnel.

Our community is fortunate to have these wonderful volunteers and a great number of residents have shown support by donating funds and shopping at the Gift Shop at the hospital.

Then there are our donors and funders – for example, the hospital has benefited immensely from a fund set up through the estate of the late Max Lange. This fund has provided hundreds of thousands of dollars to equipment at the hospital over the years.

It is a sad reality that a great many people are not aware of the work involved in providing healthcare needs in the community, or how much money these volunteers have raised through their efforts. As I’m most familiar with the KGH Foundation I’ll only write about this particular local organization that is making a difference.

With the first $10,000 raised in 2011/2012, the foundation provided seed funds to improve the medical station in the Emergency Room at the hospital during renovations. As fundraising progressed more and more equipment was purchased for the ER, the OR, Acute Care, Oncology, Home Care Support and Diagnostic Imaging (the lab), maternity, as well as providing funds for Delta King Assisted Living and Mountainview Lodge Long Term Care.

The latest project is raising money and overseeing the construction of a Dementia Care Home for Kitimat.

In the nearly nine years since its inception, the foundation has provided an estimated $3.6 million of goods and services to the health care system in Kitimat!

Despite the countless volunteer hours it has taken to accomplish this, there are still people in the community who don’t understand what the foundation is about.

It started off with volunteers who donated their time and covered administration costs so every penny raised could go to health care needs. It took five years for the group to determine that the foundation would not be sustainable with just volunteers and their donation towards administration costs.

Northern Health and the Kitimat General Hospital also helped the fledgling organization by providing office space at the hospital and computer and telephone equipment. However, as volunteer burn-out was imminent it was decided to hire a part-time office coordinator and have a budget for administration costs to continue operating.

It was at this time that the foundation received a fairly substantial bequest from a former Kitimat resident who left half of his estate to the foundation. These funds have been used for the cost of operations in order that all other funds received could continue to be put towards projects.

As time goes on, the Board of Directors and the operation of a sustainable foundation will need to evolve.

Community support is an integral part of fundraising. The foundation’s success could not be accomplished without the support of the community, and it’s important that donors are aware of how much their efforts are appreciated.

Northern Health and the Kitimat General Hospital have an operating budget, which includes a very small amount for hosting. They decided to use these funds to thank donors for their contribution to the hospital and to show their appreciation to the community.

A donor recognition luncheon and a Christmas Coffee House are held annually, organized by the foundation for which the hospital provides the space and food. The net cost remains well under $2,000 to host both these events.

Individuals and community organizations are always encouraged to support health care for the community and can decide which department they wish to support or they can fund the project the Foundation has determined based on the needs listed by the hospital administration.

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