Give a Little Life Day raises $303,105.27 for cardiac equipment

Jayda Noyes/Daily Herald Volunteers take pledges for those who donate in person to the Give a Little Life Day Radiothon on Dec. 6, 2019. Volunteers from Parkland Ambulance manned the phones.

“It kind of reminds you that humanity is not all lost.” – Sherry Buckler

Victoria Hospital Foundation CEO Sherry Buckler says Give a Little Life Day is one of the most rewarding parts of her job—That’s because she’s able to meet and thank the people who support health services for central and northern Saskatchewan.

The 14th annual Give a Little Life Day Radiothon took place on Friday, raising $303,105.27. From 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., 900 CKBI, Power 99 and XFM were live on air from the Victoria Hospital’s main lounge.

This year, the campaign set a $385,000 goal to purchase new cardiac equipment: A portable digital radiography x-ray machine, Telemetry units and two Echo ultrasound beds.

“To be able to work all year and then finally meet and thank the people that are supporting us, it kind of reminds you that humanity is not all lost. There’s such a wonderful side to people,” said Buckler.

“Philanthropy’s the one thing that people, they give you something with no expectations in return and all they ask is that you do something good with their gift.”

Buckler said not only can staff take the portable x-ray machine anywhere in the hospital, it also provides an instant image of the heart. The Telemetry units are mobile devices that track patients’ heart rates and oxygen levels while they’re exercising in rehabilitation. Lastly, the beds provide a comfortable space for patients, but also allow for better images and access.

Ultimately, explained Buckler, the equipment will prevent a cardiac event and damage to the heart when one occurs: “Every second counts.”

“Last year alone we had a thousand people come to our emergency room with a cardiac event. I mean, that’s not taking into account the hundreds and thousands of people that are living and managing heart disease on a daily basis here in our community. We want to be ready. We want to have the right equipment so that we can save the life first and stabilize them, and if surgery’s required and they go to Saskatoon, when they return we have the equipment to help them re-build their health.”

Dr. Radu Ilie-Haynes specializes in cardiology and medicine for people over the age of 75. He’s been a physician for 40 years.

He estimated about one-third of their patients are coming into the hospital because of a heart problem.

Because of the swift results from the cardiac equipment, Ilie-Haynes said it’s likely that wait times and the number of patients in emergency will reduce.

“If we can prevent part of them, say maybe 30 per cent to only 20 per cent to come to the hospital, our emergency room, the waiting list will be shorter,” he said.

Ilie-Haynes said the Telemetry units will be used in their FitLife program, where patients can exercise with little risk at the Alfred Jenkins Fieldhouse because the devices monitor their heart activity.

“We are your local hospital, we are the first line here trying to help our colleagues from Saskatoon,” he said.

“Your help is absolutely priceless,” he said about those who donated.

Danny Kid, program director for 900 CKBI, Power 99 and XFM, said Give a Little Life Day was “non-stop.”

“It’s such an incredibly warm and fuzzy experience today to see all of the community members coming in, going on the air, raising money,” he said, emphasizing he’s noticed the fundraising is not a one-day thing.

“All throughout the year, people are raising money. They’re doing the jeans day on Fridays, stuff for toonies, and so to see the culmination of everything come together on this day is really heartwarming.”

Buckler also noted people fundraise in the days leading up to Give a Little Life Day, and even afterwards. Saskatchewan Polytechnic Salon and Spa donated $1500, Save-on Foods collected $1800 in donations from customers and St. Francis School and Wesmor Public High School held events to raise money, to name a few.

On Friday, Dec. 13, Arthur Pechey School is hosting a choir event for the campaign.

“Fundraising actually continues even after we go off air and usually the final total for the campaign, we usually announce it in January,” she said.

A nurse at the Victoria Hospital, Michelle MacAuley, donated a three-story gingerbread house for a silent auction throughout the day.

Last year, the foundation took on their most ambitious fundraising campaign to expand the hospital’s neonatal unit. They raised just over one million dollars, which was a nearly 182 per cent increase than the year before.

Buckler said the foundation works with the Saskatchewan Health Authority to identify equipment that’s urgently needed in the Victoria Hospital.