It is as sure a sign of the autumn season as the fall colours in northeastern Nova Scotia.
The 26th Annual Hospital Help Day – a presentation of 989 XFM and the St. Martha’s Regional Hospital Foundation (SMRHF) – will take center stage Wednesday, Oct. 30.
The live radio broadcast from Antigonish Market Square will hit the airwaves from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
“Everything is coming together very well,” SMRHF fund development associate Sadie Benoit said in an Oct. 16 interview.
Proceeds go towards a particular purchase for St. Martha’s Regional Hospital, with this year’s target an ultrasound machine.
“It will help provide better and quicker – more efficient and effective – care,” SMRHF board chair Wayne Ezekiel explained.
The ultrasound now at the hospital is spread thin, with several departments sharing it. This new one will be shared by the intensive care unit (ICU) and operating room (OR).
When it comes to its myriad uses, the new machine will be used by anesthesiologists for the insertion of central lines.
“It probably doesn’t happen without the generosity of everyone who continues to support the fundraiser,” Ezekiel noted of Hospital Help Day.
The ultrasound earmarked carries a price tag of more than $53,000, which doesn’t cover service and maintenance contracts.
“Nothing [when it comes to healthcare equipment] comes cheap,” he added.
Along with the generosity of those who make donations, the involvement and support of 989 XFM – then CJFX – has been a constant since day one.
“It has certainly grown,” 989 XFM general manager Ken Farrell said.
He reflected on the “humble beginnings” of Hospital Help Day, including prize packages that were made up of items, such as CDs and sports memorabilia.
Now the prizes packages include $3,000 and $1,000, along with ‘shop local’ and winter packages.
And, this year, there is an opportunity to win a trip-for-two to Ireland.
Raffles tickets, as usual, can be purchase for $5 each.
“It is incredible,” Benoit noted of the support the business community provides to the fundraiser.
That kindness extends beyond the much sought-after raffle prizes; there is also the space donated by Antigonish Market Square, suppliers of computers and other equipment, along with food to keep volunteers nourished.
“It is such a tremendous community effort,” Ezekiel said.
Benoit also praised 989 XFM for its irreplaceable role in Hospital Help Day, which has raised more than $1.26 million since its inception.
“It is not just on the day – people do not see everything that the staff does behind the scenes,” she said, when it comes to planning and preparations.
And, of course, there is the on-air and technical support provided throughout the 12-hour day.
“Everyone here really looks forward to it and they do an amazing job,” Farrell said of the 989 XFM team.
There are also the volunteers – both from organizations and the broader community – who answer phones and sell raffle tickets, just to name two of myriad tasks that ensure Hospital Help Day runs smoothly.
“It would not be possible without them,” Benoit said of their contribution.
For people who would like to volunteer – even an hour or two of their day – contact Benoit at 902-863-1131 or Sadie.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show of support
The effect of Hospital Help Day goes beyond dollars and cents, serving as a sign of support to current and potential doctors, nurses and staff.
“They know they have an entire community behind them,” Ezekiel said of the intangible element involved.
He added support for the fundraiser also serves as a thank-you, of sorts, for the great staff that “deeply cares for its patients.”
Borrowing the title of an ongoing move to recruit and retain doctors, Farrell suggested Hospital Help Day also reflects the “hopes and dreams” for the regional hospital, which date back to its establishment by the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Martha.
“It is very much about carrying on their legacy,” he said.
Time is still NOW
Hospital Help Day is one of a handful of fundraisers led by SMRHF staff and its board of directors.
There is also the Time is NOW campaign, one aimed at increasing the permanent endowment fund for St. Martha’s Regional Hospital.
“It definitely continues to be active,” Ezekiel said.
He noted there will be a mail out launched in November, while the initiative will turn its focus to developing ‘planned giving’ in 2020.
Ezekiel added, so far this year, the foundation has spent more than $400,000 – using only interest accrued by the endowment fund – not only to purchase equipment, but also to support education and research opportunities.
Pick up the phone
When it comes to making a donation to the fundraiser, phone lines will also be open, from 4 to 8 p.m., on Tuesday, Oct. 29.
On Hospital Help Day (Oct. 30), people can call in, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., or drop by the Antigonish Market Square.
Raffle tickets may also be purchased on these occasions.
The phone numbers are 902-867-6000 or 1-855-867-6004 (toll free).