On Thursday the Sandra Schmirler Foundation presented the Victoria Hospital Foundation with a cheque for $58,000 to purchase vital equipment for the new Malhotra NICU opening this fall.
The funds will purchase an infant ventilator as part of the ongoing campaign to equip and furnish the new Malhotra neonatal intensive care unit at the Victoria Hospital in Prince Albert.
“A donation like this for a piece of equipment such as infant ventilator gives us hope. I mean this is a big campaign, it is bigger than anything we have ever done and sometimes it’s hard to keep positive, to feel that we are making progress,” Sherry Buckler, CEO of the Victoria Hospital Foundation said.
“Prince Albert is an important referral centre for all of northern Saskatchewan and we often take sick babies from Saskatoon and Regina. So it’s a blessing that we have this kind of support we are very grateful.”
“The Sandra Schmirler Foundation is thrilled to be supporting the purchase of life-saving equipment for fragile babies in northern Saskatchewan.
The Foundation’s dream is that all babies born too soon, too small or too sick will be cared for in a NICU equipped with state-of-the-art life-saving equipment close to their homes, family and friends,” Ian Cunningham, Chair of the Sandra Schmirler Foundation said in a release.
Buckler explained that three years ago, the hospital foundation noticed a need for a newer and safer space for the NICU at Victoria Hospital and identified it as a priority. The foundation then approached the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) and asked if they could fundraise and were given the go ahead.
“We completed the first part of the campaign which was to expand the space from 357 square feet to 4,000. We knew that we would need new equipment. And here we are we are fundraising today for new equipment for this brand new NICU which is in the middle of construction and on track to open this fall,” Buckler said.
The stated mission of the Schmirler Foundation is to raise funds for hospital Newborn Intensive Care Units to purchase life-saving equipment for premature and critically ill newborns and provide scholarships to junior curlers; giving each the chance to grow up and be a champion, like Schmirler.
“It was such a lift for us to know that there is an organization that their only mission is to care deeply about premature and sick babies throughout Canada and that they wanted to make an impact right here in our community and in northern Saskatchewan and it was a great day indeed,” Buckler explained.
“We are really proud, we are really excited, we feel hopeful and we are just eternally grateful to the Schmirler Foundation for helping us it is that much closer to our goal,” Buckler said.
Buckler said fundraising for phase two of the NICU for the North campaign is already at $770,000. It launched in September 2020.
The entire campaign is successful because of the people of Prince Albert.
“This campaign is a really good example of how a grassroots initiative in a community that is championed by the people of that community that live here and work here and need this hospital. How successful it can be and how important it is to the families in the north. It means a lot to our families, we have the same care in Prince Albert, our babies have access to the same type of equipment and technology that they would have in Saskatoon or Regina,”
Give a Little Life Day raised $592,563 in December, which was during a time when COVID-19 numbers were high in North Central.
“I was shocked to see how much support came through for this. I guess I shouldn’t be because this is a generous and caring community and they care very much about local healthcare. And when it comes to the most vulnerable patients, the sick babies, the newborns you can times that by 10, they really stepped up,” Buckler said.
For more information about the Victoria Hospital Foundation visit www.helpthevic.ca.