ANTIGONISH, N.S. - “We’re over 80 per cent towards our goal.”
That was the good news quote coming from Steve Smith, chair of the St. Martha’s Regional Hospital Foundation’s (SMRHF) endowment campaign – The Time is Now – following the Sept. 10 announcement of a $1 million gift from the Sobey Foundation.
The gift will support cardiorespiratory care at the hospital and, in recognition, the cardio and respiratory services will be named Sobey Cardiorespiratory Services.
Smith’s math was referencing the campaign’s goal of reaching $20 million, “to sustain and grow the services offered at St. Martha’s Regional Hospital.”
“We’re at $16.13 million. Plus, during the last few years, we have also given to the hospital for new equipment,” Smith said, adding that figure is just a little more than $1.3 million.
“So we’re not only raising money, but paying out money all the time, as the needs arise. Some things we fund completely and some in partnership with the Nova Scotia Health Authority.”
He called the Sobey contribution a “game-changer.”
“I’ve been looking forward to this announcement for quite some time,” Smith said.
“This gives us a push to start aiming towards the end. But, of course, with The Time is Now campaign, there really is no end because when we hit $20 million, that will not be the end. Healthcare is becoming more and more costly and there are more and more people needing it.”
He elaborated on the thought of more people seeking healthcare services, noting the area St. Martha’s Regional Hospital serves has an aging demographic.
“As you get older, you start to go to the hospital more for different reasons and the demographic in our area is getting older. There are more and more visits to the hospital and you can see it every day when you visit St. Martha’s by just how busy it is.
“And the need for new equipment and doctors is so big; so important. I just ask everyone to continue to open their hearts and, if you haven’t made your pledge yet, consider making it and help us ensure the future of great healthcare in our area.”
Frank Sobey, chair of the Sobey Foundation, referred to the gift as a “catalyst.”
“We are making this gift as a catalyst to inspire additional gifts from the community, creating sustainable funding for healthcare at St. Martha’s,” Sobey said, in a prepared release.
“The Sobey Foundation’s goal is to improve the lives of individuals through health, education and communities. By partnering with St. Martha’s, we knew we could make that lasting impact. This investment will ensure that the [SMRHF] foundation and the hospital have the capacity to continue to provide this essential support in the community where we live and work.”
Sobey was asked, following the announcement, about the money being directed to cardio and respiratory services.
“Once we decided we should support this request, we had a series of discussions back and forth,” he said. “We then decided cardiology, cardio-respiratory, was the place for us.”
Dr. Amy Hendricks, who works in that department at the hospital, was pleased that particular decision was made.
“It means a lot,” Hendricks said.
“It can be easier to fundraise for a big, expensive piece of equipment people can relate to but, sometimes, there are costs for building a program, building staff education, developing patient related education resources that may not be quite as, for lack of a better word, sexy.
“Knowing there will be substantial funding coming in for respiratory care, for the indefinite future, allows us to make some of those other kinds of investments that may not be as obvious in the public eye, but are just as necessary for proper care.”
Hendricks added that it will help the hospital recruit doctors as well.
“If I am trying to recruit a physician to come here and be part of our respiratory care team, if they know they have some ongoing funding to work with, to see their dreams come true for this hospital and their patients’ healthcare, it will be a game-changer,” she said, borrowing a term that was used often during the announcement.
Hendricks talked about the positive energy in the hospital with The Time is Now campaign coming closer to reaching its objective.
“I’m always aware and humbled by the generousity of the [SMRHF] foundation,” she said, noting she is reminded of their work daily, as she accesses a piece of equipment purchased through foundation funding.
“And I think there is a great energy with the endowment campaign; a great job has been done. If we ever wondered if our community supported us, we certainly know now.”
For more information on the campaign, visit smrhfoundation.com.