Victoria Hospital Foundation unveils resident van for care homes

Herb Basset Home resident Gerry Robins sits in front of a new van that over 200 people can use for transportation on August 30, 2019. (Jayda Noyes/Daily Herald)

A four-year-resident of a care home in Prince Albert’s Victoria Hospital is excited to go to rodeos without booking transportation weeks in advance.

Gerry Robins was among several residents from the Herb Basset Home and Pineview Terrace at an unveiling of a van on Friday. Over 200 residents will be able to use the accessible vehicle to travel within the city.

Robins rolled up to the microphone wearing a plaid shirt and a cowboy hat to make his speech.

“They kind of sucked me into doing this little thing, but anyways I don’t mind,” he said as everyone giggled.

“This is a great thing for the home here and I’m sure all the residents will get good use out of it. It’ll make our transportation much easier.”

Robins showed more humour as he said “I don’t know who’s going to drive it yet, but I hope it ain’t them people they call, what do you call them here?” An employee let him know she was in fact right behind him, and Robins laughed.

“You better get your chauffeurs license,” he joked.

The van is sponsored by the Emma Lake Golf Course and the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses (SUN) Local 62.

The Emma Lake Golf Course covered the van’s lease for five years, which in total costs $75,000. SUN Local 62 paid a total of $9,000 for three years of maintenance.

“My mom was in the home at the time and I understand the problems they had getting transportation and not being able to keep the residents happy, and that’s what it’s all about,” said Ross Ethier, owner of the Emma Lake Golf Course.

His late mother, Darla Ethier, is pictured on the side of the van with her great granddaughter.

The golf course also holds two annual tournaments with the proceeds going towards new medical equipment.

President of SUN Local 62, Barb Fisher, said her mom is in a different care home that has a van.

“You and I would jump in our vehicle and don’t think anything of it. These folks don’t have that liberty, so it’s great to be part of, a small part, of something that will make their lives better,” she said.

“(It’s) a depth of satisfaction to see those that we care about being cared for, and seniors is a population that sometimes is missed.”

Sherry Buckler, CEO of the Victoria Hospital Foundation, said the sponsors are contributing to a greater quality of life for the residents.

“Many of these residents have left freedom behind when they moved into a resident home because of their needs. Their needs are more complex now, so what this means for them now is they can now attend events. They can go to family weddings, they can attend a funeral, they can go to hockey games,” said Buckler.

“Often people forget that when you make a gift to our foundation, it’s not a building that you’re making a gift to—you’re making a gift to the people that are inside of that building.”

Residents can use the van free of cost. Previously, they had to book transportation about two weeks in advance if they wanted to go somewhere.