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Foundation launches $10-million fundraising campaign for new hospital equipment

A $10-million initiative aims to fund more than 200 pieces of medical equipment for Royal Jubilee, Victoria General and Gorge Road hospitals.

A $10-million initiative aims to fund more than 200 pieces of medical equipment for Royal Jubilee, Victoria General and Gorge Road hospitals.

The Victoria Hospitals Foundation Emerge Stronger Campaign, launched Thursday at Royal Jubilee Hospital, is one of the largest campaigns the foundation has put together.

Executive director Avery Brohman said the pandemic has been stressful for everyone, but especially for hospitals.

“We’re facing the greatest challenge of our time and how we emerge out of this is really up to the community,” she said. “We have all witnessed the great stress building on our health-care system, from increased hospitalizations impacting hospital capacity to the cumulative effects of staff burnout in our care teams.”

Among the 8.7 million assessments administered at Royal Jubilee and Victoria General hospitals last year were about 212,000 COVID-19 tests.

The equipment the campaign aims to fund includes a $1-million unit that analyzes blood samples from around the Island, replacing a unit that is 20 years old. The new unit is expected to reduce downtime, provide greater automation and integrate better with other tests.

A $318,000 piece of neurosurgery equipment on the wishlist is new for the Island and would help up to 600 patients a year with access to imaging technology in operating rooms, the foundation says, while cardiac patients will benefit from a $300,000 surgical set, minimally invasive equipment that will also be a first for the Island.

A $99,000 breast-imaging software is on the list to improve detection and allow a radiologist to use MRI scans to monitor treatments. Close to 15,000 breast-imaging procedures are done each year at Victoria General Hospital.

For people with retinal damage due to diabetes, a state-of-the-art $159,000 laser will be purchased that will help with retinal tears and age-related conditions. The existing laser is at the end of its life, the foundation says.

Dr. Jill Kelly, medical lead for the Royal Jubilee emergency department, said she is looking forward to the hospital acquiring the new blood-testing equipment, along with another piece that helps control bleeding.

“I’m really excited about everything that this campaign can offer, not just for the emergency department but for the hospital in general, so that we can provide the best care possible to our community.”

Kelly said the pandemic has added a “whole other layer of challenges” to the work the hospital already does, and having the right equipment allows the emergency department to provide timely and effective care for patients.

“Having the right equipment makes a massive difference.”

The early days of the pandemic brought considerable fear and uncertainty, along with many changes in the way things were done, Kelly said, adding there was only a small respite before the fourth phase of the pandemic arrived.

Through it all, the public has made a difference, she said. “Our teams has continued to receive messages of support from the community and that’s really helped our team feel like what we do matters and that we’re being valued.”

Elin Bjarnson, Island Health vice-president of clinical operations for the south Island and the Cowichan Valley, said the fourth wave of the pandemic has been the most stressful yet. “A community that supports us and new equipment in the hands of those who need it most is one of the ways we can emerge stronger out of this challenging time.”

Brohman thanked the community for backing the foundation’s efforts ensure Victoria General, Royal Jubilee and Gorge Road hospitals have the best equipment. “We know that we have been asking for a lot over the last 20 months, but there’s a reason for that,” she said. “Our hospitals need us right now and it really is up to us how we emerge out of this pandemic.

Brohman said the campaign is expected to run for about a year.

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